The ballyhooed depth team president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has assembled, coupled with an emphasis again put on player development, have been instrumental in the Los Angeles Dodgers once more withstanding a slew of injuries.
Even with Andrew Toles — a prime example of the organization’s depth — suffering a season-ending knee injury, the Dodgers seemingly have not missed a beat. Cody Bellinger made his MLB debut in April and went on to become an impact player, Kiké Hernandez is enjoying a bounce-back season, and Chris Taylor is in the midst of a career year.
The trio has been instrumental in filling the void not only left by Toles, but Andre Ethier and Adrian Gonzalez. Ethier suffered a herniated disc injury during Spring Training and has yet to appear in a game.
Gonzalez was put on the disabled list this season, also due to a disc issue, for the first time in his career, and landed back on the DL roughly one month later.
Gonzalez only recently began taking swings, then advanced to hitting off a tea and soft toss. He fielded ground balls at first base on Friday.
A general target for his return is some point in August, and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is encouraged by Gonzalez’s recent progress, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“He is trying to push the envelope, which is good,” Roberts said of the 35-year-old Gonzalez. “When the training staff lets me know he’s ready for some games, we’ll slot him in. This is a good thing, it means Adrian is feeling pretty good.”
Gonzalez is expected to complete a rehab assignment prior to being activated off the disabled list. Once that begins, the club will have a general sense of when the veteran first baseman will rejoin the team.
As for Ethier, he’s continuing to work toward a return once active rosters expand in September:
“He’s running, throwing. I don’t know if he’s taken swings yet,” Roberts said. “But to think he would be any day before Sept. 1 is probably unrealistic.
Ethier’s biggest hurdle has largely been completing various workouts and activities in succession. Residual pain has typically set in, slowed the recovery process and pushed Ethier’s timetable further into the calendar.
The 35-year-old experienced a similar situation last season after sustaining a tibia fracture during the spring. Ethier did not return until September, though played his way onto the Dodgers’ postseason rosters for both the National League Division Series and NL Championship Series.