Dodgers Report: Justin Sellers

Five questions about the Dodgers infield

January, 29, 2014
Jan 29
3:13
PM PT
From 1973 to 1981, the Dodgers enjoyed the most stable infield in the history of the game, Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell and Ron Cey forging the heart of some very good Dodgers teams. Those days are long gone.

Turnover is the order of the day now and the Dodgers' infield has proven highly changeable. You might have forgotten by now, but Justin Sellers and Luis Cruz both started on Opening Day last season. Dee Gordon started two Opening Days ago. Jamey Carroll and Rafael Furcal were still around three Opening Days ago and two Blakes -- DeWitt and Casey -- were in the starting lineup to kick off 2010.

And next season? While Adrian Gonzalez provides steady production and presence at first base and Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe both return, the Dodgers again will be dealing with uncertainty. They signed Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero to be the team’s everyday second baseman, but the team has enough doubts about his ability to field the position steadily that it now says that will be an open competition this spring.

Guerrero might even begin the season in the minor leagues. The Dodgers continue to try to convince Michael Young to put off retirement and return as a place-holder second baseman, bench contributor and veteran presence.

With just 10 days to go before pitchers and catchers report to Camelback Ranch, let’s explore five key questions:

Will fielding be a problem?

The Dodgers realize they don’t have the perfect formula. Ideally, your best fielders would be your shortstop and your second baseman and the guys on the corners, who see fewer chances, would provide power bats.

The Dodgers have to hope that thunder up the middle doesn’t lead to a deluge of ground balls sneaking into the outfield. They have a shortstop, Ramirez, with 30-home run power who is, to put it kindly, a below-average fielder. They have a second baseman who is a mystery, particularly with his glove. Meanwhile, Uribe and Gonzalez are among the best fielders at their positions, but neither is much of a home run threat these days.

“If you’re starting from a textbook and drawing up what you would want your team to be, you’d start with defense up the middle and want to have power on the corners , but that’s only one way to do it,” team president Stan Kasten said on 710 ESPNLA earlier this winter. “There are plenty of examples of teams who do it with a different model.”

Just because the model is different doesn’t mean it won’t work, but it’s risky. The Dodgers have the luxury of playing in a stadium that forgives pitchers who allow fly balls, one of the reasons they can sacrifice some infield defense. The Ramirez-Guerrero tandem likely would be untenable in the AL East, for example.

Is Guerrero ready?

Nobody had ever heard of Miguel Rojas until about a month ago, when the Dodgers started dropping his name as a legitimate alternative at second base. Considering Rojas is a career .234 hitter in the minor leagues, that’s a pretty good clue they’re having their doubts about Guerrero’s readiness for Opening Day.

Guerrero’s attempt at accelerating the learning curve transitioning from shortstop was derailed by hamstring injuries in the Dominican winter league.

Officially, the Dodgers say Guerrero is “leading the pack,” in the competition to start at second base, but Rojas -- who spent six years in the Cincinnati Reds’ system -- is a defensive wizard who is in the process of moving from shortstop as well. He impressed Dodgers veterans and coaches with his nimble infield skills last spring.

There is, however, good news. The Dodgers expect Guerrero to be an above-average offensive contributor when he’s ready and they have heard nothing but good things about the way he’s approaching the job.

“He’s very mature, an incredibly hard worker with great makeup,” Kasten said.

Are the Dodgers overly reliant on Uribe?

After two dismal seasons in Los Angeles, Uribe saved the Dodgers and redeemed his earning potential last year. After Luis Cruz simply stopped hitting, Uribe stepped in and batted .278 with 12 home runs, a huge post-season hit and spectacular defense (+15 Defensive Runs Saved), for an overall outstanding season of 4.1 WAR.

That earned Uribe a raise, a two-year, $15 million deal. The problem is he is 34, an age at which many players -- particularly third basemen -- begin a fairly spectacular decline. A bigger problem is how few fallback options the Dodgers have if Uribe doesn’t work out. Right now, Justin Sellers is listed as the backup third baseman.

The context, however, is key: Uribe was easily the most-appealing option in a field largely bereft of free-agent third basemen.

Look for the Dodgers to continue to try to woo Young. If that doesn’t work out, they’ll probably give Chone Figgins a long look this spring. They still badly need some coverage at three infield spots.

Can Ramirez stay at shortstop?

The Dodgers toyed with moving Ramirez back to third base. It was one of the scenarios on the table if Uribe wanted more than a two-year deal.

The problem with moving him again is that he’s an even worse third baseman than he is a shortstop. In 860 innings as a third baseman in 2012, Ramirez had a Defensive Runs Saved of -11 and a UZR of -3.6. In 651 innings at shortstop last year, he had a DRS of 3 and a UZR of 0.2. He was an awful third baseman two seasons ago and roughly average at shortstop last year.

The Dodgers are hoping that wasn’t the result of a small sample size. The best position for Ramirez in the long term might be the outfield, but the Dodgers are a little crowded out there these days. The good news is he very well might be the best-hitting shortstop in the game. He certainly was last year. Among players with at least 225 plate appearances, only Miguel Cabrera had a better OPS than Ramirez’s 1.040.

Keeping Ramirez healthy might be the most important question of this Dodgers season. It was pretty obvious what he meant to the team in the NLCS last October.

Are they stretched thin?

Imagine a major injury to any of the Dodgers’ everyday infielders. Now, imagine the possibilities to replace him. Frightening, isn’t it? If the Dodgers learned one thing from last season, it’s the importance of depth, because they somehow survived an endless string of injuries.

Losing Gonzalez for an extended period would be almost as trying as having Ramirez in and out of the lineup.

They may not know for a while how badly they’ll miss Mark Ellis, Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker.

Even if they convince Young to come back, it’s not as if he is a wizard with this glove. Dee Gordon is short on experience as a bench player and hasn’t proven he’s anything more than a one-dimensional player, a pure speed threat. Scott Van Slyke has mostly played outfield in the major leagues and, like Gordon, is a bit uni-dimensional -- all power.

Sellers has never hit a lick in the major leagues. Figgins didn’t even play last year. See why Rojas has suddenly become such a popular player within the organization? He keeps popping up as a possible answer to a number of different questions.

Justin Sellers returns

June, 10, 2013
6/10/13
3:27
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- With Hanley Ramirez still feeling some hamstring tightness, the Dodgers recalled shortstop Justin Sellers from Triple-A Albuquerque and optioned right-hander Matt Magill.

Sellers made the Dodgers' roster on Opening Day and filled in for Ramirez on an everyday basis, but batted .191 in 26 games. He was hitting .337 for Albuquerque.

Magill is 0-2 with a 6.51 ERA in six major-league starts.

Is Hanley Ramirez's return imminent?

April, 16, 2013
4/16/13
5:44
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers shortstops are hitting .167, worst in the majors. Dodgers third basemen are hitting .178.

In other words, this would be a good time for Hanley Ramirez to return from the disabled list. According to Ramirez, that day is rapidly approaching. The Dodgers originally thought Ramirez would be out until late May, but he has begun taking batting practice and fielding grounders. The team has outfitted him with a special splint that allows him to throw while protecting his surgically repaired right thumb.

"It's awesome. No pain, nothing," Ramirez said. "Definitely it's going to happen way sooner than it's supposed to."

Ramirez wouldn't reveal exactly when he might return, saying it was a surprise.

"I'm going to tweet it," Ramirez said.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, continue to go primarily with Justin Sellers at shortstop and Luis Cruz at third base, largely because they lack other options. Cruz is batting .111, Sellers .176. They each have one RBI. But they are easily the best available defenders at their positions.

"We decided we're going to play defense," manager Don Mattingly said. "When you put together a pitching staff like this, you have to catch the ball."

Here are lineups for Tuesday's game:

San Diego
1. Chris Denorfia RF
2. Everth Cabrera SS
3. Yonder Alonso 1B
4. Jesus Guzman LF
5. Jedd Gyorko 3B
6. Nick Hundley C
7. Cameron Maybin CF
8. Alexi Amarista 2B
9. Jason Marquis RHP

Dodgers
1. Carl Crawford LF
2. Mark Ellis 2B
3. Matt Kemp CF
4. Adrian Gonzalez 1B
5. Andre Ethier RF
6. A.J. Ellis C
7. Juan Uribe 3B
8. Justin Sellers SS
9. Chris Capuano LHP
 

 

Quick take: Dodgers 6, Pirates 2

April, 7, 2013
4/07/13
4:07
PM PT


LOS ANGELES -- Adrian Gonzalez drove in four of the Los Angeles Dodgers' runs Sunday in a 6-2 win that gave them a three-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

It was one of those days that made the Dodgers think they got the better of last August's blockbuster trade with the Boston Red Sox. Carl Crawford, another part of that trade, has scored five of the team's 16 runs so far this season.

Crawford lined a double to left-center and scored on Matt Kemp's sacrifice fly in the third and then led off the fifth with a hit and scored when Gonzalez singled. Crawford is batting .450 after the opening homestand.

Hyun-Jin Ryu improved on his major-league debut, giving up only three hits in 6 1/3 innings. The Pirates' only scoring against Ryu came on Andrew McCutchen's deep two-run home run to left field in the first inning. That was Pittsburgh's first 2013 home run.

Gonzalez drove in the Dodgers' first two runs when he dribbled a single up the middle in the first inning. Justin Sellers broke an 0-for-15 season-opening slump by hitting a solo home run off reliever Chris Leroux leading off the seventh.

Fan interest seems to have held steady throughout the opening homestand. The Dodgers drew 52,053 fans Sunday and sold out half of their first six games.

Kershaw and Co. go it alone

April, 6, 2013
4/06/13
10:05
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- You've got to give Luis Cruz a little credit for keeping his sense of humor through a grueling start to his season.

"Right now, I think I have the same ERA as Kershaw -- 0.00," Cruz said.

[+] EnlargeClayton Kershaw
Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY SportsClayton Kershaw has started the season with 16 consecutive scoreless innings, but the Dodgers' offense hasn't helped him much.
Cruz is in the worst slump among Los Angeles Dodgers hitters, zero for his first 17 at-bats, but he's far from alone in the department of struggles.

After Saturday's 1-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Dodgers are collectively batting .190 with two home runs in the season's first week. Matt Kemp is hitting .056 with six strikeouts; Justin Sellers is also still looking for his first hit.

In fact, another name for the Dodgers' offense most nights is "Carl Crawford."

That, of course, is the bad news for a team that entered 2013 with a heap of expectations and the richest collection of players in baseball history. Lucky for the Dodgers, there is a flip side to their angst. Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and the bullpen have been virtually unhittable, sending the Dodgers off to a 3-2 start despite virtually no support.

"Obviously, we're not swinging the bats that great yet, but it's good to be getting wins as we get down this road, to be able to do it in different ways," manager Don Mattingly said.

Actually, it seems as if they're kind of doing it in the same way, eking out narrow victories behind dominant pitching.

Kershaw (2-0) is tied for the team lead in home runs with Andre Ethier. Each of them has one. He dominated again Saturday, holding the Pirates to two hits and a walk despite having what, for him, was a mediocre fastball.

"I was reaching back and didn't have a whole lot in the tank," Kershaw said.

(Read full post)

Quick take: Dodgers 1, Pirates 0

April, 6, 2013
4/06/13
9:12
PM PT


LOS ANGELES -- His home run streak ended after one game, but Clayton Kershaw showed no signs of giving any ground on the mound.

Kershaw (2-0) dominated for seven innings of the Los Angeles Dodgers' 1-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday night, giving him 16 scoreless innings to start the season.

If these first two starts are any indication, Kershaw can sleepwalk his way to another Cy Young. He didn't walk his first batter in 2013 until his 16th inning and he quickly picked off Russell Martin from first base. Through Kershaw's first 16 innings, he has allowed just seven baserunners and struck out 16.

The Dodgers' bullpen, although used sparingly, has been equally dominant. Dodgers relievers have not allowed a run or hit yet through their first 10 1/3 innings. Paco Rodriguez, Kenley Jansen and Brandon League got the final six outs to finish what Kershaw started.

The Dodgers' hitters, meanwhile, are in a collective fog. They couldn't do much damage against A.J. Burnett, but they had long enough at-bats to drive up his pitch count and get him out of the game in the sixth inning.

Their only run off Burnett came on Mark Ellis' RBI single through the hole into left field. That run was set up by a Carl Crawford stolen base, his second of the game.

Aside from Crawford, Ellis and Andre Ethier, the Dodgers' hitters have begun the season in a miserable funk. Luis Cruz (0-for-17) and Justin Sellers (0-for-14) remain hitless, and Matt Kemp is 1-for-18. He struck out in his first three at-bats Saturday, then hit into an inning-ending double play in the seventh.

After his final two at-bats, Kemp walked back to the dugout to a smattering of boos from a crowd of 39,446 fans.

Luis Cruz moves well to his left

April, 3, 2013
4/03/13
5:36
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- Justin Sellers made two throwing errors to help usher in a couple of unearned runs in the Dodgers' 3-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night. The next day, Sellers was not in the lineup, replaced at shortstop by Luis Cruz and in the lineup by Juan Uribe.

Coincidence? Exactly, according to manager Don Mattingly.

"I knew I'd get that question early," Mattingly said. "I told Sells early on that you all were going to question it, but he'll be back out there."

The Dodgers have had three different lineups in their first three games, perhaps a bit of a surprise given their relative health in spring training and the number of established players they have on their roster. Mattingly is trying to keep Uribe in the mix after a spring in which he batted .333, and he is giving Carl Crawford some extra time to recover coming off elbow surgery.

The swing man is Cruz, who played 12 professional seasons as a shortstop before moving to third to accommodate Hanley Ramirez last season. Cruz is going to have to get accustomed to moving back and forth between the positions, probably until Ramirez returns. The Dodgers haven't said whether Ramirez will return to shortstop, where he struggled, or play another position.

"I don't have the range of Dee [Gordon] or Sellers, but I can do it," Cruz said. "It's not that big of a deal for me."

Here are the rest of the lineups:

San Francisco Giants
1. Angel Pagan CF
2. Marco Scutaro 2B
3. Pablo Sandoval 3B
4. Buster Posey 1B
5. Hunter Pence RF
6. Hector Sanchez C
7. Gregor Blanco LF
8. Brandon Crawford SS
9. Tim Lincecum RHP

Dodgers
1. Carl Crawford LF
2. Skip Schumaker 2B
3. Matt Kemp CF
4. Adrian Gonzalez 1B
5. Andre Ethier RF
6. Luis Cruz SS
7. Juan Uribe 3B
8. A.J. Ellis C
9. Josh Beckett RHP

Ryu gets mixed results in Dodgers debut

April, 2, 2013
4/02/13
10:50
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- It might take Hyun-Jin Ryu a little time to figure out how to pitch effectively in the major leagues.

For one thing, every time he communicates with pitching coach Rick Honeycutt or catcher A.J. Ellis between innings, he has to do so through interpreter Martin Kim. Each conversation, no matter how trivial, takes twice as long. It's not exactly a breezy way to build rapport.

Hyun-Jin Ryu
Harry How/Getty ImagesHyun-Jin Ryu gave up 10 hits in his Dodgers debut, but found a way to get out of trouble most of the game.
"Ryu's very patient waiting for the translation," Ellis said after the Dodgers lost to the Giants, 3-0, on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium. "We're building the relationship, the communication, but I really like the direction it's going."

One message that Ryu figures to receive in the next 24 hours or so will come from manager Don Mattingly, who wasn't all that thrilled with his effort level after grounding out to third base in the sixth inning. Ryu barely advanced out of the batter's box before he was thrown out by Pablo Sandoval. Mattingly said he planned to discuss the matter with his new pitcher, the first player jumping directly from the Korean Baseball Organization to the majors.

"He's slow down to first base, but he can't be that slow," Mattingly said.

Ryu apologized to Dodgers fans for his effort on that play, saying he was "embarrassed," after hearing some boos from the crowd. Pitchers in Korea don't bat and Ryu said he was just trying to conserve some energy after realizing the ball was mishit.

His pitching didn't merit boos. He worked hard to keep some innings from caving in on him, getting through 6 1/3 innings despite allowing 10 hits.

His postgame media conference in a room packed with South Korean reporters took on an aggressive tone. One Korean reporter asked him whether he thought the umpires were "testing" him. Another wondered whether he felt let down by the Dodgers' defense, particularly two crucial throwing errors by shortstop Justin Sellers. Another asked him if he was upset that Mattingly pulled him in the seventh inning with pitcher Madison Bumgarner coming to the plate.

Ryu's answers to the above questions were, "No," "no," and "no." He was humble in his postgame comments, saying, "I got hit around a lot," and "I've only been here three months. I think it will be OK."

The Dodgers have a lot invested in whether it is. They signed Ryu for $36 million in December, not long after paying his former team $25.7 million for the right to negotiate with him.

What they've seen so far is a pitcher with confidence and a good idea about what he's doing, but far from overpowering stuff. Ryu worked at about 90 mph with his fastball, often attempting to catch part of the outside corner, a style typical of finesse left-handers.

"I don't think he's a guy that's going to not give up hits," Mattingly said. "I think he's going to give up his share of hits. He pitched well, so that's not a concern."

Quick take: Giants 3, Dodgers 0

April, 2, 2013
4/02/13
9:56
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers' newest starting pitcher looked wobbly and their choice to replace Hanley Ramirez even wobblier, but the slowest-starting part of the team has been the offense.

That can happen when you run into Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner back-to-back.

The Dodgers have scored in just one of their first 17 innings at bat so far against the San Francisco Giants, and that rally was sparked by pitcher Clayton Kershaw's home run on Opening Day.

Korean left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu found ways to diffuse problems in front of 41,431 fans Tuesday, allowing 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings. His effort to escape deep trouble was thwarted by some wild throws by shortstop Justin Sellers in the seventh inning. The runs came in when Sellers' throw to catcher A.J. Ellis sailed high and right after Bumgarner's chopper just past the mound.

Ryu had an eventful evening making his major-league debut at Dodger Stadium, the same place where he first wowed Dodgers scouts four years earlier in the World Baseball Classic. The Giants led off the first two innings with back-to-back singles and had eight hits by the time Ryu got one out in the fourth inning. But he got a couple of key double plays, one of which was nearly a triple play. Sellers elected not to throw to first with speedy Andres Torres running in the second inning.

The Dodgers picked up just two hits, their only base runners in eight innings off Bumgarner.

Ryu barely got out of the batter's box on his fifth-inning groundout to third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who appeared to laugh after throwing Ryu out after the pitcher barely got one-third of the way to first base.

Justin Sellers' fortunes soar

April, 1, 2013
4/01/13
11:59
AM PT
Nobody was more ready for Opening Day to get here than Dodgers shortstop Justin Sellers, who said he had a sleepless night Sunday not because he was nervous, but because he was so excited.

"I'm ready to do this," Sellers said.

The Dodgers optioned Sellers to minor-league camp the morning of March 19. That evening in San Francisco, Hanley Ramirez dove for a ground ball in the World Baseball Classic and tore a ligament in his right thumb.

That set in motion an unlikely change of direction for Sellers' career, from fading prospect to everyday major-league player, at least as long as it lasts. Ramirez is expected to miss about two months and the Dodgers are giving Sellers, 27, the first chance to stabilize the left side of the infield.

The Dodgers had a change of heart about what to do in Ramirez's absence. First, they thought of sliding Luis Cruz over from third base, but they met and decided Sellers gave them better defense to support their pitching. They didn't think Dee Gordon was polished enough to fill the same role.

If Sellers can field well and produce just enough with his bat, he figures to be the primary shortstop until he's not.

"We always looked at Sells as kind of the safety valve at short because we knew he could catch it," manager Don Mattingly said. "Offensively, Sells has not shown at this point that he’s going to be a great offensive player. We just need to him to have a good approach and compete at the plate."

Here are lineups for the Dodgers' game against the defending champion San Francisco Giants:

Giants
Angel Pagan CF
Marco Scutaro 2B
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Buster Posey C
Hunter Pence RF
Brandon Belt 1B
Andres Torres LF
Brandon Crawford SS
Matt Cain RHP

Dodgers
Carl Crawford LF
Mark Ellis 2B
Matt Kemp CF
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Andre Ethier RF
Luis Cruz 3B
A.J. Ellis C
Justin Sellers SS
Clayton Kershaw LHP

Sellers and Paco are in; Gregg out

March, 31, 2013
3/31/13
11:51
AM PT
The Dodgers' Opening Day roster is virtually set, though the team will make a few moves Sunday morning before the noon deadline.

They elected to keep young lefty Paco Rodriguez over veteran Kevin Gregg in the bullpen. Farm director De Jon Watson was in discussion with Gregg's agent about whether the former closer, in camp on a minor league deal, would report to minor league camp after he was reassigned. Gregg has earned roughly $20 million in his career, so he could elect to walk away.

Both pitchers performed well this spring. Gregg had a 0.82 ERA, Rodriguez had a 3.02 ERA.

Manager Don Mattingly also announced that longtime minor leaguer Justin Sellers will make the team, which makes it a virtual lock he'll be the team's starting shortstop in place of injured Hanley Ramirez.

Barring something unforeseen, here will be the Dodgers' Opening Day lineup against the San Francisco Giants Monday:

1. Carl Crawford LF
2. Mark Ellis 2B
3. Matt Kemp CF
4. Adrian Gonzalez 1B
5. Andre Ethier RF
6. Luis Cruz 3B
7. A.J. Ellis C
8. Sellers SS
9. Clayton Kershaw LHP

Justin Sellers angles for shortstop job

March, 29, 2013
3/29/13
7:14
PM PT
[+] EnlargeJustin Sellers
Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY SportsJustin Sellers, above, could play shortstop quite a bit before Hanley Ramirez returns from injury.
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers' first thought when they learned they would be without All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez for eight weeks was to slide Luis Cruz over from third base and use a platoon of utility guys -- including Juan Uribe -- at third.

Now, they are leaning toward using longtime minor-leaguer Justin Sellers while Ramirez is out. In 167 major-league at-bats, Sellers, 27, has batted .204, but his glove could help solidify the left side of the Dodgers' infield.

Manager Don Mattingly said before Friday's game against the Los Angeles Angels that he wants to "keep seeing Justin at short," which is a good sign for Sellers three days before the season opens. The Dodgers apparently think Dee Gordon -- last year's Opening Day starter -- needs further minor-league seasoning, because he didn't even travel with the team from Arizona after he was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque.

Mattingly said the notion of using Sellers to replace Ramirez arose in a meeting with the coaches and scouts.

"We still haven't settled anything, but it's just another line of thinking," Mattingly said.

3 up, 3 down: Dodgers 6, Cardinals 0

May, 19, 2012
5/19/12
9:58
PM PT


LOS ANGELES -- Reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw pitched a six-hit shutout, his first complete game this season, and the Los Angeles Dodgers continued their early-season surge despite a slew of injuries, pounding the St. Louis Cardinals 6-0 before 39,383 on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium.

Kershaw ran his shutout streak to 22 innings over his past three starts. He threw a season-high 116 pitches in his fourth career shutout and seventh career complete game.

Kershaw wasn't completely dominating. The Cardinals hit several balls hard in the early innings, including a couple of fly balls to the warning track, and he struck out just four batters for the game. But in typical fashion, he repeatedly made big pitches when he needed them, stranding runners in scoring position in the second and third innings in a game that stayed tight until the Dodgers put it away with a four-run seventh.

The Dodgers fielded a lineup that was less than threatening on a night when second baseman Mark Ellis became the fifth regular position player to land on the current disabled list and shortstop Dee Gordon was benched for a lack of offensive production. But the Dodgers managed far more offense than they would need with Kershaw on the mound, running baseball's best record to 27-13 and maintaining their six-game lead over the San Francisco Giants in the National League West.

The Good

Streaking. A.J. Ellis ran his streak of reaching base to 28 consecutive games by poking a double into the rightfield corner off Jake Westbrook with two outs in the second inning. That is the longest active streak in the majors. Ellis actually has reached base in 31 of his 32 games this season, the only exception being April 10 when he went 0-for-3 against Pittsburgh.

Opposite extremes. The Dodgers broke on top in the bottom of the fourth inning with a rally that was alternately built around patience and agressiveness, Bobby Abreu leading off by working Westbrook for a classic Abreu-like, nine-pitch walk in which he fouled off three 3-2 pitches, Andre Ethier following with a groundrule double on Westbrook's first pitch, and then Adam Kennedy adding seven more to Westbrook's pitch count before lining a ball off the glove of first baseman Matt Carpenter that wound up in right field as both Abreu and Ethier crossed the plate, giving the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.

Redemption. Justin Sellers made up for an earlier gaffe (see below) by making a spectacular, lunging, back-to-the-infield catch of a blooper off the bat of Tyler Greene at the start of the fifth inning, robbing Greene of at least a single. Sellers later put the cherry on top with his second career home run, a solo shot just over the wall in left off Westbrook, to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead.

The Bad

Tradeoff. It didn't take long for the Dodgers to feel the absence of Gordon, their offensively struggling leadoff man who has been benched for the next few days. With one out in the top of the first, Carlos Beltran hit a high pop to shallow left. Sellers, starting at shortstop in place of the defensively gifted Gordon, ran out while left fielder Abreu ran in. Sellers, who has some speed but nothing on a par with Gordon's, peeled off at the last second, and an apparently stunned Abreu initially made a basket catch, but it didn't stay in his glove long enough for the out to be recorded before it popped out and fell to the grass. Beltran was safe at first and Abreu was charged with his first error of the season for either the Dodgers or the Angels, but no harm, no foul, as Beltran never advanced beyond that.

Turnabout. One night after going 4-for-4 with a double, a walk and an RBI against one of his many former teams, Kennedy went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and got himself picked off first base. He may have been robbed of a two-run single, though, not by any of the Cardinals defenders but by the official scorer. Kennedy absolutely smoked the aforementioned ball off Carpenter's glove, but the scorer charged Carpenter with an error. Kennedy thus got credit for driving in the first run, but not the second.

Opportunity knocks. The Dodgers went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position (again, with help from the official scorer), or the beating might have been worse.

Leadoff issues not limited to one guy

May, 18, 2012
5/18/12
6:27
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon was out early on Friday, well before batting practice, and spent a lot of that time working on his bunting while bench coach Trey Hillman fed balls into a pitching machine. Will it help him become a better leadoff man instead of the guy who has gone 2-for-26 over his past six games and appears to be utterly lost at the plate? Who knows? But in fairness to Gordon, this should be pointed out:

There is something about batting first in the Dodgers order this season that is virtual kryptonite to a guy's offensive numbers, and it isn't limited to Gordon.

Three guys have hit leadoff for the Dodgers this year: Gordon, Tony Gwynn and Justin Sellers. Sellers has done it just once, such a small sample size that we're going to throw him out of this equation and look solely at Gordon and Gwynn.

In games in which they have hit leadoff, Gordon and Gwynn are hitting a combined .204 with a .253 on-base percentage -- far below the level of acceptability. And while it's true that Gordon screws up the math because he has hit there in all but six games this season -- he has hit .204 with a .245 OBP -- Gwynn has hit just .200 in the leadoff spot, with a .304 OBP. Compare that to Gwynn's perfectly acceptable overall marks of .282 and .346, and you have to wonder what it is about the leadoff spot.

Those numbers are also somewhat skewed by the fact they include games in which Gwynn might have been slotted first after entering a game defensively in the late innings, but they still give you a general idea.

For now, in the eyes of manager Don Mattingly at least, Gordon still is the best option for hitting leadoff, so he will hit there again on Friday night against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Dee Gordon, SS

Mark Ellis, 2B

Bobby Abreu, LF

Andre Ethier, RF

Adam Kennedy, 3B

James Loney, 1B

A.J. Ellis, C

Tony Gwynn, CF

Ted Lilly, LH

Hairston to DL, Sellers back to majors

May, 11, 2012
5/11/12
4:15
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- As expected, the Los Angeles Dodgers placed infielder Jerry Hairston on the 15-day disabled list Friday with a strained left hamstring. The club had tried to wait out the injury, which Hairston suffered running out an infield hit on Sunday in Chicago, but the improvement slowed earlier this week, and an MRI exam on Wednesday revealed what the medical staff had suspected, which was a strain.

To fill Hairston's roster spot, the team recalled infielder Justin Sellers -- who essentially plays all the same positions Hairston does -- from Triple-A Albuquerque.

The move was made retroactive to Monday, meaning Hairston is eligible to return as soon as May 22 at Arizona.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Zack Greinke
WINS ERA SO IP
11 2.73 127 118
OTHER LEADERS
BAY. Puig .307
HRA. Gonzalez 14
RBIA. Gonzalez 58
RY. Puig 51
OPSY. Puig .912
ERAJ. Beckett 2.26
SOZ. Greinke 127