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03/21/09 4:46 PM ET
Blake sees Indians from other side
Veteran faces old team for first time since being traded to Dodgers
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Six years ago, Casey Blake was a rather anonymous non-roster invitee to the Indians' Spring Training camp. On Saturday at Goodyear Ballpark, he was the starting third baseman and cleanup hitter for the Dodgers, who recently signed him to a three-year, $17 million contract.
The time between was the story of a rebuilding organization giving a versatile player a chance and the hard-working Blake taking advantage of that opportunity and becoming a regular.
"I owe those guys everything," said Blake, who faced the Indians for the first time since he was traded to the Dodgers for prospects Carlos Santana and John Meloan last July.
Blake, believe it or not, has played more games for the Indians than any other player this decade. He suited up for the Tribe 810 times from 2003-08, and he bounced all over the diamond and the lineup. He went from the starting third baseman to the starting right fielder to the starting first baseman and then back where it all began at the hot corner.
The Dodgers still call the 35-year-old Blake their third baseman after outbidding the Twins for his services over the winter. Minnesota was much closer to Blake's Iowa home, but when the Dodgers proved to be the only team willing to go to three years for Blake, he couldn't refuse.
Besides, Blake -- whose wife, Abbie, will give birth to the couple's fourth child and first son, George, later this week -- has enjoyed his time in Los Angeles.
"Between pitches, you'll be looking around and see movie stars everywhere," he said. "It's kind of weird. My wife loves it. She doesn't even watch the games, she's looking around trying to see who's there."
Of course, any member of the Dodgers doesn't have to look far to see some serious star power. Blake is playing for one of the game's most famous managers in Joe Torre.
"He's different than I expected," Blake said. "I thought he'd be more serious. Not that he's not, but he has a pretty good, dry sense of humor."
And then there's the incomparable Manny Ramirez.
"He's awesome," Blake said. "He's so happy-go-lucky. He plays like he's in Little League. He's a great teammate and keeps everybody loose. He kind of does his own thing, but he's very, very intelligent."
Blake was intelligent enough to know the Indians wouldn't be serious bidders for his services this past offseason.
"They needed to go out and get a closer, and they were going to spend some money to do that, and that's understandable," he said. "There's no hard feelings at all."
Besides, the Indians were the team that gave Blake his first legitimate shot in the big leagues.
"They gave me this opportunity," he said, "and I'm eternally grateful for it."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.