Dodgers' Ronnie Belliard designated
SAN DIEGO -- The Los Angeles Dodgers designated Ronnie Belliard for assignment before Tuesday night's game with the San Diego Padres at Petco Park, a move that probably will end the veteran infielder's stint with the club.
The move was made to clear a spot on the 40-man roster outfielder Trent Oeltjen, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Albuquerque.
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Belliard, who primarily came off the bench, hit .216 for the Dodgers this season, with two home runs, 19 RBIs and a .295 on-base percentage. He hit just .171 (7 for 41) as a pinch hitter.
Dodgers manager Joe Torre said Belliard never really got comfortable with his part-time role this season.
"This year, once we knew Blake DeWitt was going to be our second baseman, [Belliard] knew he would be pretty much relegated to the bench," Torre said. "He knew that in spring training. He did the best he could for what we asked him to do. & But again, when you're used to getting more at-bats than he got, it's a little easier to play as a regular player than it is to come off the bench."
Belliard declined to discuss the matter with reporters as he dressed to leave the ballpark.
"I don't want to talk about it," he said.
If Belliard clears waivers, the Dodgers have 10 days to either trade or release him, with the usual third option of outrighting him to the minor leagues no longer available because the minor league season will have ended.
The Dodgers acquired Belliard from the Washington Nationals at last year's trading deadline, and he wound up playing so well for them for the rest of the season -- he hit .351 with five homers, 17 RBIs and a .398 OBP -- that by the playoffs, he had supplanted Orlando Hudson, who won his fourth Gold Glove after the season, as the everyday second baseman.
That performance also led to the Dodgers re-signing Belliard, 35, last winter to a one-year, $825,000 contract that famously included a clause requiring him to get his weight below 210 pounds before the end of spring training, which he managed to do. Once the season began, though, Belliard was never much of a factor, although he did start a total of 36 games at first, second and third base.
Oeltjen, 27, is from Australia and played 24 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season. The Dodgers signed him to a minor league contract on July 6, four days after he was released by the Milwaukee Brewers, and he went on to hit .347 with a .416 OBP in 49 games for Triple-A Albuquerque.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
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