Who's on second for the Dodgers?
That’s it for the Dodgers when they open camp Saturday. Only one daily spot in the lineup needs to be decided.
While they may go through every arm this side of Phil Niekro to decide a fifth starter, the only regular position spot open is second base.
Otherwise it doesn’t figure as Suspense City for the Dodgers this spring. Their roster returns remarkably intact, particularly the roster they ended the season with.
And if you are to go by the way Manager Joe Torre finished the season, the incumbent at second is Ronnie Belliard.
Even though the Dodgers have talked of giving Blake DeWitt every opportunity, even though they signed free agent infielder Jamey Carroll much earlier and said he would split time with DeWitt, it is Belliard who will likely open the spring with the inside track. Providing he hasn’t gone all pudge ball on us.
Certainly, it would be great if DeWitt put together a spectacular spring and outright won the job. He’s young (24); he’s homegrown; he's theoretically the future.
He certainly looked better initially when called up in 2008 as a third baseman. If he doesn’t step up this spring, he will likely return to Triple-A where he can play every day.
So if DeWitt doesn’t stake a claim on second, Belliard and Carroll could battle for the start, or end up splitting time.
Belliard would add some power to the lineup. He had five home runs and 17 RBI in his 24 games after his Aug. 31 trade to the Dodgers. He beat out Orlando Hudson late in the season and started in the playoffs.
But he turns 35 the first week of the season and his days of being an everyday player on probably behind him. So even if he wins the spot, Carroll could get a reasonable amount of playing time.
Both can also play third, and as Torre is at least talking about giving Casey Blake more time off this year, both could be busy. With DeWitt in the minors, that could open up another reserve infield position.
Belliard’s situation is dependent upon him not looking like Tommy Lasorda in his uniform. If he doesn’t get down to 209 this spring, his $825,000 contract isn’t guaranteed and he could be released.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Ronnie Belliard. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times