As a whole the Los Angeles Dodgers arguably are in better health now than when the 2019 season began. At that point they were without Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill, both of whom have since returned from respective injuries.
Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenta Maeda each spent time on the 10-day injured list, though each made a speedy return after being sidelined for the required minimum amount of time. Justin Turner avoided serious injury despite fouling a ball off his shin, and so did Pedro Baez after taking a line drive off his knee.
A.J. Pollock is still recovering from elbow surgery, but the Dodgers have been able to rely on Alex Verdugo. However, the rookie outfielder himself is not 100% percent.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts revealed Verdugo is suffering from some back trouble that played a role in him not being included in Sunday’s lineup against the Pittsburgh Pirates, according to Jake Crouse of MLB.com:
“I tried to get him out of there last night and give him today,” Roberts said. “… He’s going to take a day to take care of his back and treat it up, and I expect him to be in the lineup tomorrow against [Mets starter Jacob] deGrom.”
Verdugo was removed after playing six innings in the field on Saturday. He went 1-for-4 with a walk, contributing to the Dodgers setting a Los Angeles franchise record with eight doubles in a single game.
The start was Verdugo’s 11th in a row and 32nd this season. Including a pinch-hit appearance on Sunday, he’s appeared 50 of the Dodgers’ 53 games.
After making the Opening Day roster as a fourth or fifth outfielder on the depth chart, Verdugo steadily began to earn his way to more playing time. He was already pushing Pollock for starts in center field when the veteran began to experience trouble with his elbow that ultimately led to surgery.
In addition to producing at the plate and in the field, Verdugo regularly provides a burst of energy with his electric personality. He’s given credit to teammates for making him feel comfortable in the clubhouse and accepting who he is as a person.
Verdugo attributed previous experiences with the Dodgers in 2017 and 2018 are a factor in that, but it also can be surmised so too is improved maturation from the 23-year-old.