Just a quick note from me today, as it’s shaping up to be quite a nice Saturday here: Casey Blake left today’s split-squad game against the Giants after just half an inning, with Russ Mitchell replacing him at third. The team later tweeted that he’s day-to-day with “tightness in his lower right back”. This may or may not turn out to be anything – probably, it won’t be, because even a slight breeze is enough to knock most vets out of a spring game – though it should be noted that Blake missed nearly a week last year with back issues as well.
No, it’s not the injury that’s worthwhile, but the way in which he reportedly sustained it; in the first inning, Blake attempted to beat out a bunt to the right side. You may remember a few weeks ago that one of the reasons Don Mattingly wanted to hit Blake 2nd was because he liked the Beard’s bunting ability. Most of us, predictably enough, scoffed at the notion that we’d be seeing regular bunts from Blake in the #2 hole. That, of course, was just from a baseball point of view: bunting works when you have a weak hitter (generally, the pitcher) and the gain of advancing a runner one base is a better gamble than the extreme unlikelihood of the batter getting a hit. It occasionally works with a very speedy batter, though not always. 99.9% of the rest of the time, it’s giving away an out. Besides, it’s not like Blake really has a great history of bunting, having done so just 32 times in nearly 5000 career plate appearances. But strategy aside, there’s a health component; asking your slow-footed 37-year-old third baseman to try to beat out bunts seems questionable at best and dangerous at worst. Let’s hope that Blake’s tightness is minor, but also that today’s events help to put an end to that idea.
As for today’s games, which are in progress? It’s been tough for both pitchers, as neither Ted Lilly or Tim Redding (go, John Ely!) showed much, though Matt Kemp & Tony Gwynn each look great on the offensive side of the ball.