LOS ANGELES -- A couple of hours before his debut with the Dodgers, infielder Ronnie Belliard sat in front of his new locker and joked around with Rafael Furcal and Manny Ramirez. It was at their request that Belliard reside in between them in the back corner of the Dodgers' clubhouse -- not that Belliard seemed to mind. In fact, everything about Belliard's demeanor screamed upbeat. But that should be expected from any player moving from the National League's worst team to the squad with the league's best record.
"I'm happy to come to this ballclub, a lot of tradition here," said Belliard, who started at second base on Monday. "Now my mind is set up to win some ballgames to try and help them go to the postseason." Belliard, who was traded to the Dodgers from the Nationals on Sunday for two Minor League players, said that he found out about the trade after Washington's 2-1 loss to the Cardinals. Belliard arrived in Los Angeles on Sunday night, and he said that he plans to stay in a hotel this week and then rent a place for the remainder of the season. The move to acquire Belliard gives the Dodgers an extra bat off the bench and another infielder that can play multiple positions. "It's tough to be specific," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said regarding Belliard's role with the club. "He's probably going to do a lot of different things for us." After getting off to a slow start this season, Belliard has been swinging a more potent bat in August. He entered Monday's game hitting .361 with three home runs and 13 RBIs in 61 at-bats this month. Those splits dwarf his numbers on the season (.246 batting average, five home runs, 22 RBIs). Belliard said that the reason for his improved numbers was that he was playing more often. Belliard started 14 games for the Nationals in August, five more than he started in any other month. "I probably saw the ball better, I had my swing back," Belliard said. "I think when you play you see the ball better. When you don't play, you don't see the ball good." While Belliard won't see that kind of playing time with the Dodgers, he doesn't think that forebodes a drop in production. "I've just got to improve myself," he said. "Last year, I did the same thing in Washington when I wasn't playing every day. They put me out there, and I swung the bat pretty good. "When you're on a winning team, I think your mind just changes a little bit." To make room on the 25-man roster for Belliard, the Dodgers placed reliever Guillermo Mota on the 15-day disabled list because of an apparent ingrown toenail. Mota pitched scoreless innings of relief on Friday and Saturday against the Reds, but he allowed seven runs and 12 hits in his last 11 1/3 innings. "It's been bugging him for a while, and since we need a move, we figured we'd give him time to let it get better," Torre said. The Dodgers expect to activate Doug Mientkiewicz off the DL on Tuesday when roster expands up to 40. Mientkiewicz has been on the DL since April 17 because of a dislocated right shoulder. Another potential callup is catcher A.J. Ellis from Triple-A Albuquerque. Ellis has appeared in three games for the Dodgers this season. The move would give the Dodgers three catchers on their active roster.
David Ely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.