LOS ANGELES -- Elian Herrera, who as recently as a week ago wasn't on the Los Angeles Dodgers' 40-man roster and never had even been to major league spring training, is the team's starting second baseman for now.
The assignment will be a sporadic one, as manager Don Mattingly said he will mix in Justin Sellers, Ivan De Jesus and, when he comes off the 15-day disabled list, Jerry Hairston, but it was the switch-hitting, fleet-footed Herrera who drew the assignment on the first day team officials learned they would lose Mark Ellis for at least 15 days and possibly an extended period with a lower left-leg injury.
As for the leadoff spot, which also has been vacated because Mattingly has decided to sit the struggling Dee Gordon for at least a few days, that will be occupied by Tony Gwynn on Saturday night against the St. Louis Cardinals. But while Gwynn is the only player other than Gordon who is a solid fit for that spot in the order, Mattingly isn't comfortable playing Gwynn, who is normally a bench guy, every day.
On nights when Gwynn isn't starting, Mattingly said he could go with Herrera, Sellers or possibly even Bobby Abreu in the leadoff spot.
Here is tonight's lineup, starting with Gwynn and Herrera. It may not look like a recipe for an offensive explosion, but with reigning Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw on the mound, the Dodgers presumably won't need one.
Tony Gwynn, CF
Elian Herrera, 2B
Bobby Abreu, LF
Andre Ethier, RF
Adam Kennedy, 3B
James Loney, 1B
A.J. Ellis, C
Justin Sellers, SS
Clayton Kershaw, LH