The Los Angeles Dodgers dropped their series opener against the San Francisco Giants on Friday night, marking the first time they have lost consecutive games since falling to the Chicago Cubs on April 23 and 24.
One noticeable absence from the Dodgers lineup was rookie outfielder Alex Verdugo, who has become the team’s starting center fielder since A.J. Pollock was placed on the 10-day injured list due to an elbow infection that required surgery.
Considering Verdugo hits left-handed, it seemed reasonable to give him a night off with the Giants starting a southpaw in Drew Pomeranz. Though, Verdugo does have a home run against Pomeranz in his career.
Meanwhile, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts revealed Verdugo was held out of the lineup because of back tightness, via SportsNet LA:
“With what Alex has shown us, we’ve got no problem with him against left-handed pitching. Even with Pomeranz, he’s a guy that’s pretty neutral as far as left- and right-handed. If you look at our bench tonight, whether Watson or some of their righties, I think we can counter whatever they want to do. And also, over the last couple weeks Alex has been dealing with a little bit of a back (issue). So to kind of give him an extra day on top of the off day, is only going to help.”
Roberts reiterated the issue started when the Dodgers faced the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field a couple of weeks ago, but he does not believe Verdugo’s trouble is serious:
“Not serious. It’s one of those things where Alex is doing exercise to just keep it strong but it’s something that’s nagging a little bit. I think it’s more tightness. To get a day where he’s off and not run him out there like we did earlier, I think playing our whole roster is only going to help. It’s something he’s got to maintenance and it’s more tightness-driven. … I think it was maybe Tampa (series) might’ve got him. That might’ve been it.”
Verdugo has become the latest Dodgers rookie to impress in his first full Major League season, hitting .300/.353/.471 with 13 doubles, four home runs and 28 RBI in 60 games this season.
Nagging injuries are something that happen often throughout the course of a 162-game season, so it makes sense that Roberts gave him a night off to let him get back to 100 percent and avoid the issue lingering and becoming a more serious injury down the line.