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04/05/12 7:00 PM ET

Sellers savors Opening Day opportunity

SAN DIEGO -- Dodgers rookie Justin Sellers said his first Opening Day in the Major Leagues is even more meaningful than last year's debut.

"It was a big deal last year to be called up in my hometown, but to make the team out of Spring Training, after all the hard work I put in, it means so much to me and my family," said Sellers, the son of former Major Leaguer Jeff Sellers.

Sellers, who beat out Josh Fields and Luis Cruz for the final position spot, is one of five Dodgers on an Opening Day roster for the first time. The others are Dee Gordon, Josh Lindblom, Scott Elbert and Javy Guerra.

Sellers said he's accepted his backup role and cut down his swing as the staff has insisted.

"I can just do what I'm told and get better every day," he said. "I'm going to pick Jerry Hairston's brain. He's been a utility man for so many years. I want to be the best utility player I can be."

Mattingly confident 'pen will rise to challenge

SAN DIEGO -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he's comfortable with the makeup of his bullpen, even though most of the relievers he's counting on had rocky springs.

Closer Javy Guerra walked five in 7 2/3 innings. Kenley Jansen had a 5.00 ERA and allowed three homers in nine innings. Scott Elbert had a 4.15 ERA and walked five in 8 2/3 innings. Mike MacDougal had a 7.88 ERA with eight walks in eight innings. Todd Coffey had a 10.57 ERA with six walks in 7 2/3 innings.

"Well, [Clayton] Kershaw wasn't good last time out," Mattingly offered as a comparison. "Spring Training doesn't mean a whole lot to me, nothing until you show up here. Our guys have come in confident. The games will tell us where we are.

"I feel good about the bullpen. Everybody we bring out of the there comes with a good arm and gives us the flexibility for matchups."

The Dodgers open the season with eight relievers because starting pitcher Ted Lilly is on the disabled list, primarily to build up his pitch count after missing time with a stiff neck. Lilly had a bullpen session Thursday and is scheduled to make a rehab start for Class A Rancho Cucamonga Sunday.

Grateful Mattingly says goodbye to McCourt

SAN DIEGO -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he spoke with outgoing owner Frank McCourt Thursday for the first time since the announcement that the club and Dodger Stadium would be sold to Guggenheim Partners, Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten.

"It was just talking," said Mattingly. "He gave me the opportunity [to manage] when, really, a lot of people probably wouldn't have. I appreciate the confidence he had in me. I guess, in a sense, it was saying goodbye, knowing he's got things to do in the next month."

Mattingly was asked if it was an emotional farewell.

"A little bit," he said. "I wasn't crying, but people become part of your life, part of the process."

The sale, overseen by a Delaware bankruptcy court, is scheduled to close by April 30.

Mattingly, who received a good-luck text from Kasten Thursday, said last week's announcement of the agreement changed the tone around the club.

"It's a little different, that's for sure," he said. "There's a lot more energy and it's positive around the club. Instantly in Spring Training you could feel a different energy."

Dodgers' Minor League rosters take shape

SAN DIEGO -- The Dodgers made several Minor League roster moves over the past few days, including releasing infielder Russell Mitchell and left-handed pitcher Matt Chico.

Mitchell, who played briefly in the Major Leagues the past two years for the Dodgers, was made expendable by the play this spring of Josh Fields, also a corner infielder who has gone to Triple-A Albuquerque. Chico also was an early cut in Spring Training.

Meanwhile, journeyman catcher Josh Bard, who was released by the team last week, accepted assignment to Triple-A Albuquerque, where he will back up prospect Tim Federowicz.

The pitching staff at Albuquerque includes six former Major Leaguers: John Ely, Brent Leach, Wil Ledezma, Fernando Nieve, Mike Parisi and Ramon Troncoso.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.