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Dodgers start clearing it out: designate Ronnie Belliard for assignment

September 7, 2010 |  5:58 pm
You can hardly call it the official start to the house cleaning in preparation for next year -- the Dodgers did waive Manny Ramirez in a straight salary dump.

Still, there seemed something almost symbolic about the Dodgers' designating Ronnie Belliard for assignment Tuesday. That cleared a spot on the 40-man roster for outfielder Trent Oeltjen, called up from triple-A Albuquerque.

The Belliard move could be viewed simply as recognition of his failure this year (.216 batting average, .327 slugging percentage in 162 at-bats) . . . or that the Dodgers’ season is effectively over and it’s time to start looking toward next year.

If the former is the case, there are a lot of Dodgers who’d better start getting nervous.

Belliard was a trade-deadline acquisition a year ago, and played so well (.351, .636) he ultimately pushed Orlando Hudson out of the lineup and started in the playoffs.

This year, however, the second base job was given to Blake DeWitt, and then, after his trade, to Ryan Theriot.

Belliard became a utility player, behind Jamey Carroll, and never blossomed in the part-time role. He hit just .171 as a pinch-hitter.

At age 35, this is likely the end of Belliard as a Dodger. There’s no real reason to bring him back.

If he clears waivers -- they didn’t already send him through? -- the Dodgers can either release or trade him. The minor league season has ended, so he can’t be sent down.

Oeltjen, 27, played on the Australian Olympic team in 2004. He appeared in  24 games last season for the Diamondbacks. He started the season in the Brewers’ farm system, before exercising an out clause and then signing with Albuquerque. He hit .347 with five home runs and 33 RBIs in 119 at-bats for the Isotopes.

-- Steve Dilbeck