Casey Blake “close” to beginning rehab assignment in minors

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Casey Blake has been out since April 25 with an elbow infection that was expected to sideline him for 4-6 weeks, but yesterday manager Don Mattingly revealed that “Casey is close” to beginning a minor-league rehab assignment.

Mattingly told Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times that Blake “went the fully Monty” yesterday, which means taking batting practice and fielding ground balls (presumably with clothes on).

Friday is the start of a six-game road trip for the Dodgers and Mattingly indicated that the goal is for Blake to begin rehabbing during that time.

Juan Uribe has started 13 of the past 15 games at third base in Blake’s absence, but has hit just .154 and was benched yesterday in favor of Juan Castro.

Shohei Ohtani no longer facing Masahiro Tanaka on Sunday at Yankee Stadium

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Shohei Ohtani has essentially become the Angels’ designated Sunday starting pitcher, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia announced Thursday morning that the 23-year-old two-way Japanese star will be skipped in the rotation this weekend at Yankee Stadium for “workload management” purposes.

Ohtani is fine to continue hitting, so there’s no sense of any physical ailment.

This decision will rob us — and the Japanese media — of a showdown between Ohtani and countrymate Masahiro Tanaka. And for that we are rather devastated, but you can understand the Angels’ concerns about overuse.

Ohtani has registered a 3.35 ERA, 1.066 WHIP, and 52/14 K/BB ratio through his first 40 1/3 innings (seven starts) as a major league pitcher and he’s slashing .308/.364/.582 with six home runs and 19 RBI in 26 games as a part-time DH.