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Ronnie Belliard fits right in with Dodgers

The utility player's versatility has been an asset, earning him starts at two positions, and he's contributed at the plate too.

September 07, 2009|Jim Peltz

It hasn't taken long for Ronnie Belliard to make himself at home with the Dodgers.

Since being acquired a week ago from the Washington Nationals as a backup infielder, Belliard has posted a .304 batting average (seven for 23) in seven games with a home run and four runs batted in.

The home run came in Belliard's first at-bat as a Dodger, and he has also started five games, three at second base and two at third base.

"We certainly wanted to get a look at him and get a feel for him at a couple of different positions, but he's been aggressive with the bat," said Dodgers Manager Joe Torre.

He said it was "ideal for me" that Belliard, 34, was available to play second base so that Torre could give Orlando Hudson a couple of days off, then switch Belliard to third base after Casey Blake suffered a strained left hamstring.

"So far so good," Belliard said. "I'm an aggressive hitter, I know that, I never change my approach."

Belliard also has become fast friends with Dodgers such as Manny Ramirez and Rafael Furcal, whose lockers are on each side of his.

"I've got guys around me to help me a lot . . . everybody has welcomed me here," Belliard said.

Bullpen workhorse

Rookie reliever Ronald Belisario continues to be an effective workhorse lately in the Dodgers' bullpen.

Despite being on the disabled list for a month because of a strained right elbow, Belisario has a 3-3 record and 2.10 earned-run average in 56 appearances this season.

Since being activated from the disabled list Aug. 8, the 26-year-old right-hander has given up only one run in 11 2/3 innings, including five consecutive scoreless innings in his last four outings.

The Venezuelan, whom the Dodgers signed as a free agent during the off-season, missed the 2005 and 2006 seasons while recovering from elbow surgery and then pitched in the minor leagues in 2007 and last year.

"It's my first year that I've pitched in so many games, but I feel really good," he said. "I've been executing my pitches, especially my two-seam" fastball. "That's my best pitch."

Asked whether the pitch was more effective against right-handed-hitters or left-handed hitters, Belisario replied: "Everybody, right or left."

Belisario last month pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence following his arrest June 27 in Pasadena.

Eckstein's tutelage

When the San Diego Padres last month offered infielder David Eckstein a one-year contract extension to return in 2010, he didn't hesitate to accept.

"We know we're a club that's in transition, we're going more with the youth movement and it's been fun to be a part of," said the 5-foot-6 Eckstein, who was a fan favorite when he played with the Angels from 2001 to 2004 and was part of their 2002 championship team.

He also won a title, and the World Series most-valuable-player award, with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006.

The Padres said they wanted Eckstein, 34, back in large part because of his work ethic and the example he sets for younger players.

"When the club came to me and they said they wanted me to stay . . . it was an easy decision on my part," he said.

"I knew I was going to play somewhere next year," said Eckstein, who entered Sunday's game with a .998 fielding percentage, tops in the major leagues among second basemen. "But this is where I want to be."


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