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Belliard Complicates Infield

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The Dodgers surely have a luxury item in infielder Ronnie Belliard.

When he was traded by the Washington Nati(o)nals on August 30, I immediately thought he was this year’s Julio Lugo: an average player with experience but not much else. At Washington this season he had a .246 batting average and an OPS+ of 75 (100 being an average player).

Little did any of us realize that he would be Marlon Anderson. With the Dodgers Belliard has a .308 batting average with four home runs including a grand slam in yesterday’s game and an OPS+ of 147.

Combine those offensive numbers with that fact that he’s a veteran and can play multiple infield positions, you can see why manager Joe Torre has been using him a lot.

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“He’s a player that’s had experience,” Torre said. “The fact he can play a number of positions gives you an opportunity to get him a lot of playing time and not necessarily in one position.”

In fact since being acquired Belliard has started seven games at second base spelling Orlando Hudson and six games at third base for Casey Blake. To top it off he has yet to commit an error at either position.

“He’s very valuable especially in the National League where there’s so much double switching going on,” Torre said. “He becomes even more valuable in the late innings if he’s not starting the ball game. Or if he’s in the game and you want to bring somebody else in you can move him from place to place.”

Torre has even flirted with playing Belliard at first. Although Belliard started only one game this season at first base and has been inserted at first 14 other times, he did start 21 games at first last season committing only two errors.

Today Belliard will be given another start at second base giving Hudson another day off.

“Belliard is swinging the bat really well,” Torre said. “He’s doing a good job. That’s a big part of the decision today with tomorrow being an off day.”

Torre also believes all the playing time is hurting Hudson.

“At this point in time he continues to do the same things but I think over the course of the season it’s probably taken a little bit of a toll on him,” Torre explained. “As far as playing today, he could probably play today.”

However when asked if Hudson’s starting job is in jeopardy, “He’s not starting today,” he firmly stated. “He’s not starting today, okay?”

Torre later elaborated on this which didn’t make things any clearer.

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“[Hudson] had a three-hit game the other day,” Torre explained. “It’s not like he’s not available to play. I’m taking advantage right now with Ronnie swinging the bat the way he is to use him and to decide what choices we’re going to have going forward.”

San Francisco Giants

  1. Andres Torres, LF
  2. Freddy Sanchez, 2B
  3. Randy Winn, RF
  4. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
  5. Bengie Molina, C
  6. Juan Uribe, SS
  7. Ryan Garko, 1B
  8. Aaron Rowand, CF
  9. Tim Lincecum, P

Los Angeles Dodgers

  1. Rafael Furcal, SS
  2. Andre Ethier, RF
  3. Manny Ramirez, LF
  4. Matt Kemp, CF
  5. James Loney, 1B
  6. Casey Blake, 3B
  7. Ronnie Belliard, 2B
  8. Russell Martin, C
  9. Randy Wolf, P