Coming off another season in which they struggled against left-handed pitching, the Los Angeles Dodgers seemingly sought out to find a right-handed bat that would better balance their lineup.
They were linked to the likes of Nick Castellanos and Jose Martinez before ultimately signing A.J. Pollock to a four-year, $55 million contract. Along with historically performing well against southpaws, Pollock filled a need for the Dodgers in center field.
His tenure with the Dodgers got off to an uneven start and on Monday took a turn for the worse when manager Dave Roberts revealed after a loss to the San Francisco Giants that Pollock was unavailable due to an infection in his right elbow.
Pollock was placed on the 10-day injured list the following day, which figured to benefit Alex Verdugo as he already was pushing for more playing time.
In light of being without Pollock as he is set to undergo elbow surgery, Roberts acknowledged it will lead to Verdugo receiving more opportunities against lefties, via SportsNet LA:
“Alex is going to play more against left-handers. There’s going to be a balance with keeping Max in there. So that means he’s going to be playing second base. But when Alex does play in this situation, he’s going to be in center field. It does call for more opportunities for Alex, certainly.”
Verdugo’s start in the series opener against the Giants was his second in center field in a three-game stretch. Overall, it was a third start in a four-game span.
Although Roberts intends to provide the young outfielder with more starts against a left-handed pitcher, Verdugo was not in the lineup Tuesday when the Dodgers faced Drew Pomeranz.
Verdugo demonstrated an ability to hit lefties throughout his Minor League career and has produced in limited opportunities thus far with the Dodgers. In 12 plate appearances against a left-hander, he has four hits — one double, triples and a home run — four RBI, one walk and two strikeouts.