09/22/10 10:30 PM ET
Dodgers line up Kershaw to face Rockies
Torre feels obligation to pose challenge for contenders
By Evan Drellich / MLB.com
Clayton Kershaw's scheduled start has been moved up to Friday against the D-backs from Saturday, which will allow him to pitch the finale of a three-game set in Colorado next week. The Rockies, Padres and Giants are all fighting for two possible playoff spots.
Kershaw will be on a regular four days' rest on Friday. John Ely is scheduled for Saturday and Chad Billingsley for Sunday, rounding out the D-backs series in Arizona. Ted Lilly is to open the Rockies series on Monday and Hiroki Kuroda is to pitch Tuesday.
"When we play Arizona, we're going to play a lot more of the kids we brought up," manager Joe Torre said. "The challenge is to have an impact. I know if we're sitting in that dugout over there [San Diego's], or wherever we're playing, you're hoping that the team that's playing one of the contenders can knock them off. I know it's our obligation to be able to do that."
Aside from a four-inning start in which he allowed four earned runs against Colorado in his last outing, Kershaw has dominated the Rockies this season. He's 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA in five starts against them.
Blake could transition from full-time role in '11
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake turned 37 in late August, and he's likely to begin transitioning to a role other than a full-time player next season.
"It's something that we need to talk about, where we're going," incoming manager Don Mattingly said. "We want to evaluate it over time instead of trying to do it right now, fast. In general, Casey benefits from a couple days off, and I've actually asked him about it. I can see it when he gets worn down. So it's one of those things you talk about."
"I think there's days, no question," Mattingly said when asked if he's seen Blake tired.
Blake entered Wednesday hitting .248 with 15 home runs and 60 RBIs in 138 games. His average is well down from the .280 mark he finished with last season in almost equivalent playing time, and his home run number has tapered, but only slightly. He had 18 in 2009.
Perhaps most significant are Blake's walk and strikeout rates: He has 13 more strikeouts and 19 fewer walks in 538 plate appearances this season than he did in the 565 plate appearances he finished with last season.
Outgoing manager Joe Torre said he wanted to rest Blake more this season. That became impossible when Jamey Carroll, the first man off the bench, had to spend significant time at shortstop and second base, and Ronnie Belliard didn't play well enough to merit more time.
"Initially, at the start of the season, I was looking to rest him a day, maybe more," Torre said. "Maybe three days every two weeks. We started out all right and then we sort of fell into [a situation where] he's swinging the bat really well and we pushed the envelope a little bit."
Blake, a 12-year veteran, will be entering the last season of a three-year, $17.5 million deal in 2011. There's a team option or buyout for 2012. He's open to the idea of resting more.
"I certainly don't want to rest if it's a day game after a night game if I'm swinging the bat well," Blake said. "But that's the manager's call. ... I don't know what the optimum amount of rest would be.
"Obviously, I'm toward the end of my career. I still think that with some more consistency on my part, I still think I can have one of my better years yet. I still can play third as well as anybody. Any other role that Don wants to put me in to make the team better, that's not my call."
Torre said the Dodgers would be looking for someone to share time at third base next season. It's possible that Carroll, Blake and shortstop Rafael Furcal could form a rotation on the left side of the infield, in which Carroll spells the latter two.
Lasorda celebrates 83rd birthday in LA
LOS ANGELES -- Eighty-three years, and 61 one of them with the Dodgers.
Former Dodgers manager, permanent Dodgers icon and current Special Advisor to the Chairman Tommy Lasorda celebrated his 83rd birthday at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday.
Fans sang happy birthday to Lasorda shortly before a night game with the Padres. Lasorda's No. 2 is one of 10 Dodgers numbers to be retired and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997. He spent 20 seasons as Dodgers manager, from 1977-96.
Connie Mack, John McGraw and Walter Alston are the only other managers in Major League history to skipper the same club for at least 20 seasons.
Wednesday was also the 76th birthday of Dodgers legend "Sweet" Lou Johnson. He got the game under way by announcing, "It's time for Dodger baseball."
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.