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Justin Sellers hopes to get a shot at shortstop for Dodgers

DODGERS

Sellers gets the start against the Angels in an exhibition after being called up from the minors. With Hanley Ramirez out for eight weeks, Sellers, and not Luis Cruz, might be the opening-day starter.

March 28, 2013|By Steve Dillbeck

That plan to move third baseman Luis Cruz over to shortstop now that Hanley Ramirez is out eight weeks with his torn thumb?

Maybe not so fast.

In Anaheim on Thursday night, Justin Sellers started at shortstop and is back in consideration to be the Dodgers' semi-everyday starter while Ramirez is out.

Sellers had been assigned to the team's minor league camp, but that transaction happened before Ramirez hurt his thumb in the World Baseball Classic finale.

Sellers has the best range of any current player at short, and with a team built around pitching and defense, the Dodgers see potential value in going with their best all-around glove.

Manager Don Mattingly said he is not 100% committed to moving Cruz to short.

"Not really," he said. "We're still looking at other options. I like Sellers, he's not bad. He can catch it a little bit."

If Cruz is at short, Mattingly would rotate Juan Uribe, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Nick Punto at third. They all have solid gloves, but limited range. Using two on the left side of the infield at the same time is at least a defensive concern.

Sellers, 27, batted .204 in parts of the last two seasons with the Dodgers, but they are more interested in his potential to add a sharp glove at their most important defensive position.

Sellers' season last year ended with back surgery, so he still has to prove he can withstand the rigors of playing daily. He said the back hasn't been an issue all spring.

"I came to spring training with the fear out of my mind," Sellers said. "Once I started playing, I really didn't think about it all."

Sellers said he was excited to learn he would be coming to Los Angeles this weekend and hopes it is a fresh opportunity.

"I hope I'm in the mix," he said. "They know I can play shortstop. For me to get the call the other night, to tell me I'm coming back up here, that means a lot to me. Just so I know I'm in the back of their minds and they have the confidence in me.

"I could use a break. I need to prove myself, that I can play up here."

Short hops

Mattingly confirmed Carl Crawford would be his opening-day left fielder: "He's not going to be as good a thrower as he will be in a month from now, but he's proven he can play daily." … Mattingly said the Dodgers have determined how they will handle their three extra starting pitchers, but because of potential health issues over the weekend, he would wait to announce it until after Saturday's game.

sports@latimes.com

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