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Amed Rosario plays shortstop in his Dodgers debut, will also play second base and center field

Cincinnati Reds v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — Amed Rosario starts at shortstop in his Dodgers debut, batting fifth on Friday against Reds left-hander Brandon Williamson. Rosario is playing shortstop Friday because that’s where he’s played all year, but the Dodgers plan to also use him at other positions.

“It just makes for an easier transition for him as he’s come to a new ball club, but the plan is to get him more acclimated to second base and play some center field,” manager Dave Roberts said. “He’ll see the majority of his time against left-handed pitching, and he’ll come into games when a right-hander starts and we bring in our reinforcements. He understands how we do things.”

Rosario was having a down year at the plate overall for the Guardians, hitting just .265/.306/.369 with an 86 wRC+. But against left-handers he’s hitting .303/.345/.477 with a 126 wRC+ this year, right in line with his .302/.343/.474 career line and 123 wRC+ against southpaws.

The Dodgers acquired Rosario on Wednesday in exchange for pitcher Noah Syndergaard.

Second base will be new for Rosario, who has never played the position in the majors or minors. He did play 18 games in center field in 2021, starting 14, and said he felt comfortable playing out there.

“Short, second, center field, whatever they need, I’ll do it,” he said.

Kiké Hernández, who was acquired from the Red Sox Tuesday and started at second base on Wednesday in his Dodgers re-debut against Blue Jays left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, starts in center field on Friday. Hernández also has a history of hitting lefties in his career, with a .259/.346/.465 line and 118 wRC+. Though he’s struggling against southpaws so far this year (.263/.315/.338, 76 wRC+), the Dodgers are confident he’ll turn things around.

Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, J.D. Martinez, and Max Muncy will start against all comers, basically, save for occasional days off. But the rest of the position-player group will split time. We’ve already seen this with Jason Heyward, who has batted only 15 times against left-handed pitchers this season (he’s 0-for-13 with two walks); and with David Peralta, who’s 5-for-19 with no extra-base hits plus a walk in his 20 plate appearances against southpaws.

“I feel confident in saying we have five guys in the lineup who are platoon-neutral, so you’re looking at seven or eight other guys on a given night that we feel we can match up,” Roberts said.

Among the mixing and matching on Friday is having Miguel Rojas start at second base, something he hasn’t done since 2018. Rojas hasn’t played the position since three games in reserve in his career, though he has played all over the infield throughout his career.

Rojas gets the nod at second base with Hernández in center at the expense of James Outman, who has hit both sides about equally this year, with a 115 wRC+ against lefties and 112 wRC+ against righties. Outman is also scorching hot in July, hitting .323/.440/.500 in 19 games this month.

The Dodgers are still figuring things out, it seems, so expect some trial and error in the meantime.

“It’s about putting guys in the best possible chance for success, give them some runway, and expect it to work out. As guys get runway, you want to see how it will play out as we get into August and September,” Roberts said. “I think with everyone else, it feels good that matching them up is the best way going forward. Could it change? Absolutely.”

After all, there are still four days until the trade deadline. There’s still time to change the roster.

“There’s always a chance,” Roberts said Friday. “There’s still time on the clock.”