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Dodgers sold on Justin Sellers at shortstop

By Scott Miller | Senior Baseball Columnist

LOS ANGELES -- Seven weeks of spring training, a couple of weeks after the Hanley Ramirez injury … and the Dodgers still pull a surprise at shortstop.

Not only was Justin Sellers, 27, slotted into Monday's opening day lineup, it sounds like he's going to get most of the time there early.

“Obviously, we'll see where it goes,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “With the pitching staff we've put together, we want to make sure we catch it as much as we can.”

When Hanley Ramirez went down a couple of weeks ago, Mattingly's first reaction was to slide Luis Cruz over to shortstop and go with a third-base rotation of Juan Uribe, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Nick Punto.

Sellers, in fact, had been assigned to minor-league camp at the time of Ramirez's injury in the World Baseball Classic.

But the more Mattingly and his coaches watched and thought about it in recent days, the more Sellers made sense.

A career minor-leaguer who was drafted in the sixth round by the Athletics in 2005, Sellers has played in just 55 games for the Dodgers over the past two seasons. Over 189 major league career plate appearances, Sellers is batting .204 with a .283 on-base percentage.

But in Mattingly's view, Sellers solidifies the Dodgers at shorstop -- at least to start the season -- and makes the club stronger in the field. The Dodgers like his defense better than Dee Gordon's at this point.

“We want to be able to catch it,” Mattingly said. “And we're willing to sacrifice offense to do it.”

 
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