Cody Bellinger returned to the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup over the weekend for the first time in nearly two months after recovering from a hairline fracture in his left fibula.
The 25-year-old came back to a clubhouse that underwent a few changes while he was on the 10-day injured list. The biggest difference is the addition of Albert Pujols, who signed with the Dodgers after he was designated for assignment and eventually released by the L.A. Angels.
“It’s amazing, man. I’ve heard nothing but unbelievable things,” Bellinger said of Pujols. “Obviously I knew that playing against him, but now he’s part of the team. I’m lucky enough to be locker mates next to him.
“I know I’m going to take full advantage of being next to a future Hall of Famer and try to learn as much from him as I can.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts revealed the team specifically wanted Pujols to be lockermates with Bellinger so he can benefit from his wealth of knowledge. “Well, nothing against Albert, but the fact is everyone is a younger player in regards to Albert, and he’s mentoring everyone,” Roberts quipped.
“I’m learning from him and us as coaches are learning from him. To have him next to Cody, I think that was Alex Torres, our clubhouse manager. It was a great move.
“Cody is one of the luckiest guys in the clubhouse to have his locker next to him. I know Cody and Mike (Trout) have a relationship, so to know their relationship can now dovetail into this one, it’s just good for Cody and the Dodgers.”
Kershaw: Dodgers feeding off Pujols’ energy, presence
Like Bellinger, Clayton Kershaw has enjoyed having Pujols on the Dodgers. “It’s been awesome. I think you take for granted the experience factor. Just seeing a guy like Albert Pujols in your clubhouse, it’s a great feeling,” Kershaw recently said.
“His track record speaks for itself but just the attitude and personality he brings to the clubhouse every day, he seems really excited to be here in his role. And he’s a wealth of knowledge. He’s going to help a lot of our young guys on the bench try to figure out how to do that. And then there’s something to be said when he comes up to bat with guys on base.
“You know there’s no panic or stress in him. He knows exactly what he can do. He said it himself. He’s got a lot left in the tank. He still hits the ball really, really hard. So I think it’s a great pick up for us. I’ve known him a little bit off and on over the years. I just have a tremendous amount of respect for him and everything he’s done, and as a person as well.”
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