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Belliard's hot bat gives Hudson rest

Belliard's hot bat gives Hudson rest

LOS ANGELES -- Considering that Ronnie Belliard knocked a first-inning grand slam Saturday that propelled the Dodgers to a 12-1 win over the Giants, it might seem like a no-brainer to put Belliard back in the lineup Sunday.

But factor in the fact that each time Belliard starts a game at second base (as he did for the seventh time as a Dodgers player Sunday), it means that incumbent starter Orlando Hudson sits.

Hudson has started 133 of the Dodgers' 150 games this year, but has sat out seven times since Belliard was acquired from the Nationals on Aug. 30.

Dodgers manager Joe Torre said that because of how often Hudson played earlier in the season, he might be starting to show signs of fatigue.

"Over the course of the season it's probably taken a little bit of a toll on him," Torre said before Sunday's game.

Torre said that Hudson's surgically repaired left wrist is holding up and that he's physically fine.

"As far as playing today, he could probably play today," Torre said. "Belliard is swinging the bat pretty well and doing a good job, and that's a big part of the decision today."

Torre said Hudson has been forcing things at the plate lately, but pointed out that he had a three-hit game earlier this week against the Pirates.

When asked if Hudson still was his starter at second base for the rest of the season, Torre was adamant in clarifying that this was a one-game situation.

"He's not starting today -- he's not starting today," Torre said.

But if the Dodgers opt to alternate between Hudson and Belliard the rest of the way, it might not be a terrible scenario.

Belliard entered Sunday batting .308 (16-for-52) with four doubles, four homers and 12 RBIs since joining the Dodgers. Pretty good power numbers for a guy who maintains that he got lucky whenever he hits one out.

"I'm taking advantage with Ronnie swinging the bat the way he is to use him, and decide what choices we have going forward," Torre said.

David Ely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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