With a numbers crunch in the infield, Dodgers left fielder Jerry Hairston… (Lenny Ignelzi / Associated…)
What to do, what to do. It’s only the first week of October. Hardly seems like the time to fret over ever-changing roster decisions that don’t have to be made until April, and even then are subject so almost weekly change.
Which is not the same thing as saying teams aren’t already giving it serious thought. Rosters, or at least its options, are designed in the off-season.
And the Dodgers currently have a glut of infielders.
They are likely to only carry six but currently have 11 on their 40-man roster, all of whom expect to be on the club.
There are the four starters — Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Ellis, Luis Cruz and Hanley Ramirez — and a surplus of potential reserves: Jerry Hairston Jr., Juan Uribe, Dee Gordon, Nick Punto, Elian Herrera, Justin Sellers and Adam Kennedy.
Kennedy is one of those rare players General Manager Ned Colletti didn’t sign to a two-year contract last off-season, so he’s likely gone. Sellers seems destined to start the season back in the minors, and probably Herrera too. And if he’s not going to beat out Cruz, Gordon will be sent back to triple-A so he can play every day.
That would still leave one too many, so unless the Dodgers are going to swallow the $8 million still owed Uribe in the final year of his disastrous contract, that still leaves at least one too many.
The early solution? Consider the versatile Hairston an outfielder. Which is just what the Dodgers are currently planning to do.
“I think he has versatility, and with the infield we’ve acquired and developed, we almost classify him more as an outfielder,” Colletti said. “So if you move him into that fourth outfielder position, suddenly you don’t have quite as many infielders. It’s a little more balanced.”
Hairston had hip surgery last month but is expected to be ready to start the season. He spent most of last year playing second and third for the Dodgers, but did play 15 games in left. He was batting .299 on July 24 and had appeared in about two-thirds of the Dodgers’ games, before he really started battling his sore hip.
If Hairston is considered the fourth outfielder, Juan Rivera could be in jeopardy of returning. The Dodgers have a $4-million option for Rivera, with a $500,000 buyout.
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