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Justin Sellers gives the Dodgers an energy boost

August 14, 2011 |  6:15 pm


Say this for him, Justin Sellers is an excitable guy. And if there is one thing the Dodgers could use a little more of this season, it's excitement.

After Sellers hit his three-run homer in the sixth inning Sunday, he almost sprinted around the bases, flew around them.

It was his third major league game. In a place he used to visit frequently when he was growing up in Bellflower and Huntington Beach.

Back then, playing baseball in the backyard with his brothers, a home run was over the neighborhood fence.

"Then actually hitting one in the major leagues and running around the bases was the most incredible feeling I've ever had," Sellers said.

Sellers is listed at 5 feet 10, 155 pounds. His uniform kind of hangs on him. You worried during his home-run sprint that it might fall off him.

His father, Jeff, pitched four years for the Boston Red Sox, but his path to the major leagues was hardly assured.

Sellers, 25, spent seven years toiling in the minor leagues. He was essentially released by the Chicago Cubs in 2009, going to the Dodgers for cash.

And even at triple-A Albuquerque, Sellers had to play second base because Dee Gordon was the bright prospect at shortstop. It took an injury to Gordon to even get him up this time.

Sellers understood a major league career might not happen.

"Of course," he said. "You just have to have the confidence that you know you can play there. And I've always had that.

"Now I'm here and I have to just keep pushing and keep working harder every day, so I can hopefully stick around in this game and in the big leagues."

Given his background and the path he took to Sunday, Sellers' excitement about his first major league home run is understandable.

"I've got the chills talking about it right now," he said. "You can't imagine. For it to happen with my family like this, in my hometown? I feel so blessed."

Sellers' high energy level went into overdrive after the home run. He was wildly received in the dugout with high-fives and hugs from teammates.

"He's exciting," Matt Kemp said. "He likes to have a lot of fun. He reminds me of myself. He's got that swag."

The sparse crowd gave him a standing ovation. He came out for a curtain call, bowed his head, gave the peace sign.

"I've never had a curtain call or anything close to that," Sellers said. "To have the crowd get loud like that and then have Kemp and some of the boys telling me, 'Get out there, get out there.' And then pushing me out there, turning around and seeing the fans go nuts like that. It was a very special moment."

None of which necessarily means that there will be more of them in the future. Gordon remains the Dodgers' shortstop prospect, but Sellers can also play second base, so there's that.

For now, the Dodgers can be happy to have a little excitement around.

And after a long journey, for now Sellers is living his dream.

"I just wanted to grind and play hard every day," he said. "Seven years and now I'm here. It's an awesome feeling I have. You do not top this feeling."


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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers shortstop Justin Sellers comes out of the dugout to acknowledge the cheering of the fans after hitting his first major league home run in the sixth inning against the Houston Astros on Sunday at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / US Presswire