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Dodgers trade for Belliard to fill utility role

August 31, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

CINCINNATI — The Dodgers bolstered their bench for the final stretch of the season and perhaps the postseason by acquiring utility man Ronnie Belliard in a trade with the Washington Nationals in exchange for two minor league players.

The Nationals received 22-year-old Class-A pitcher Luis Garcia and a player to be named.

Belliard, 34, is expected to be at Dodger Stadium today for the first game of a four-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

To be eligible for postseason play, a player must be on his team's 25-man roster by tonight at 9.

Players on the disabled list -- the Dodgers have six, including Hiroki Kuroda -- can be replaced by anyone on the club's 40-man roster.

Belliard, who became available after he cleared waivers this month, hit .246 in 86 games for the Nationals, including .361 in 24 games in August. An American League All-Star in 2004 with Cleveland, Belliard is a 12-year veteran who won a World Series with St. Louis in 2006.

General Manager Ned Colletti said Belliard could spell Orlando Hudson at second base, James Loney at first base and Casey Blake at third base.

The move probably will be the last made by the Dodgers.

Colletti said over the winter that the Dodgers' measured approach on the free-agent market would give the club the financial flexibility required to make midseason deals. But the Dodgers have added only about $1.3 million this summer by trading for Belliard and setup man George Sherrill.

"There are many things that go into it," Colletti said of the team's inability to take advantage of that flexibility.

Colletti said that the high number of teams in contention has decreased the number of clubs willing to part with talent.

Family reunion

Not a bad day for the McDonald clan.

Dodgers reliever James McDonald pitched a scoreless 11th inning to earn the victory, and his cousin, Cincinnati Reds outfielder Darnell McDonald, hit his first career home run, a two-run shot against Clayton Kershaw in the second inning.

"It was cool but we're in a race right now," James said. "I wish it wasn't against us."

James' and Darnell's fathers are brothers.

James, 24, said he stayed at 30-year-old Darnell's house during the Dodgers' time in Cincinnati and that they kidded around about facing each other.

An on-field meeting almost happened.

When Scott Rolen was caught stealing with Jonny Gomes at the plate in the 11th inning, Darnell was the man on deck.

You call this a day off?

Manny Ramirez was held out of the starting lineup because Manager Joe Torre sensed that Ramirez was feeling worn down.

"I think his legs are a little heavy right now," Torre said. "I think it's from playing every day. He had spring training, then he was gone for 50 games, close to two months. I don't care how much you're doing, you need another spring training, and he didn't have that."

Ramirez ended up playing five innings, as he entered the game as an eighth-inning pinch-hitter and scored the deciding run in the 12th.

"It was definitely worth it," Torre said.

Short hops

Kuroda is scheduled to pitch for Class-A Inland Empire on Tuesday. . . . In the 10th and 12th innings, Rafael Furcal went to the plate with Ramirez on first. He didn't try to bunt Ramirez to second base either time. The reason? Torre said he thinks most leadoff hitters have trouble bunting for anything other than a hit. Torre believes that most leadoff hitters are more used to bunting with their feet on the move instead of in place and said he didn't want Furcal to do anything that felt unnatural.

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dylan hernandez@latimes.com

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