Justin Sellers made a nice play in the first inning of game two of the Freeway Series between the Dodgers and Angels at Dodger Stadium on Friday night as Josh Hamilton grounded into a double play. Don Mattingly has been very wishy-washy when asked about what decision will be made when it comes to fielding a shortstop come Opening Day. One of the scenarios would involve moving Luis Cruz, who was supposed to be the Opening Day third baseman before Hanley Ramirez was injured, to shortstop while rotating third base between bench dwellers Juan Uribe, Nick Punto, and Jerry Hairston Jr. Yet the Dodgers have not cemented that plan into place just yet, and they have been looking at Justin Sellers play in order to determine if they should add the slick fielding shortstop to the roster.
Justin Sellers could provide the Dodgers with some stability at shortstop while Hanley is rehabbing from surgery. Sellers is the best defensive shortstop that the Dodgers have right now, and last season he won an Opening Day roster spot over quite a few guys with his defensive prowess. Unfortunately Sellers did not fare well at the plate, and he only hit .203 with 25 hits and a lone homerun in 36 games before he injured his back making a highlight reel catch. Sellers missed the rest of the season, and once again he is vying for one of the last coveted spots on the team.
This Spring, Sellers has hit .200 in 25 at bats and had a slow Spring due to a injury to his toe, a hurt ankle, and a bout with the flu. Ten days ago, pre-Hanley incident, he was optioned to the Minors. The Dodgers have been playing him more lately rather than Cruz at shortstop in order to help facilitate their decision.
Don Mattingly was asked about the shortstop situation prior to Friday’s exhibition game:
“I don’t know. I want to keep seeing Justin at shortstop, though. We had some good meetings and talks. Hanley goes down, you throw Cruz over as the first thing you do. Everybody gets together and we get a chance to think about it a little bit more, put some time on it, talk about it and we still haven’t settled anything. It’s just another line of thinking.”
It’s a smart line of thinking since Sellers and Mark Ellis could really provide an unyielding defensive middle infield. With Luis Cruz at third base and Adrian Gonzalez at first base, it is the best configuration defensively.
By rotating third baseman it would just cause instability and could possibly interfere with the infield’s chemistry. We all know how the chemistry of this team will be very important this season. Especially for Brandon Belt. In all seriousness, by inserting Sellers in shortstop in the interim, it would also allow Luis Cruz to remain at third base where he will eventually be playing most of the season anyways once Ramirez returns.
Opening Day is fast approaching, and the shortstop situation will need to be decided upon. I think we know that the best place for Juan Uribe is the bench anyhow.