Justin Sellers (and his tattoos) was somewhat surprisingly named the opening day shortstop.
It may have only been “karma” that the Dodgers 2013 roster was made official on Easter Sunday.
After all, for millions of people, the day represents rebirth. The same may hold true for the Dodgers since this year represents the beginning of, if you can believe the new advertising slogan, “a whole new blue.”
The 25-man roster includes the usual suspects of potential superstars and also lists a couple of unusual suspects as well.
When infielder Hanley Ramirez tore a thumb ligament during the 2013 World Baseball Classic, the initial thought was that Luis Cruz would move to shortstop and free agent bust Juan Uribe would start at third base by default. So it came as a bit of a surprise that the Dodgers kept Justin Sellers on the roster and announced he would be the opening day shortstop with Cruz stepping in at third base. Sellers selection may also show that Uribe will forever be in the dog house after batting just .199 in his two seasons as a Dodger.
Sellers, the 27 year old son of former major league pitcher Jeff Sellers, appeared to be teetering on being sent down to Triple A due to a weak bat. He has hit just .204 over 55 games the last two seasons. But defense was obviously on the mind of the Dodgers.
Sellers can be electrifying to watch at the shortstop position. And his image will be an easy sell here in Hollywood. Sellers is heavily tattooed, was busted for recklessly driving his motorcycle this past winter, and is from nearby Huntington Beach, California, a city known more for surfing and partying than baseball.
“Last year was special to make the team, just being a part of it, but to actually be a starter on opening day, in front of my hometown, it’s all starting to sink in now,” Sellers said.
Stephen “Paco” Rodriguez won a bullpen slot due partly to injuries and the fact he is a valuable commodity known as a left handed reliever.
Another surprise of sorts was the addition of left handed relief pitcher, Stephen “Paco” Rodriguez. The 21-year old Rodriguez, from the University of Florida, appeared in 11 games last season going 0-1 with a 1.35 ERA. He put up some solid spring numbers this year – 13 strikeouts in 11.2 innings with a 3.09 ERA. Some are joking that Rodriguez won the bullpen slot by virtue of his striking out Josh Hamilton, with the game on the line, in last Friday’s exhibition game versus the Angels.
It was believed that with lefthanders J.P. Howell and Chris Capuano already set in the bullpen, veteran right handed reliever Kevin Gregg, who gave up just one run and three hits in 11 spring innings, would be the final name on the roster. But manager Don Mattingly obviously felt that Rodriguez is ready for the late inning lefty-versus-lefty situations filled the last few years by Scott Elbert, who suffered a setback is his recovery from elbow surgery.
In regards to the pitching, the Dodgers attempted to move Aaron Harang and Capuano during the winter so they now have two starters who may or may not be happy to be looked at as long relievers only. GM Ned Colletti failed in his attempts to move at least one of them over the winter.
If there is a weakness, it shows up in the outfield positions. The Dodgers only list three players as outfielders, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier. The “backup” outfielders are primarily infielders; Skip Schumaker and Jerry Hairston.
Three pitchers joined Ramirez on the DL-Elbert, Chad Billingsley ((right index finger contusion) and Ted Lilly ((left shoulder labrum surgery).