Already facing a deficit in their series opener with the Cincinnati Reds, the Los Angeles Dodgers were staring at a daunting reality of having possibly lost Cody Bellinger for an extended period of time.
He was hit on the right knee by a 96 mph fastball from Reds starter Luis Castillo, sending Bellinger down to the ground and into a crouch behind home plate. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and a trainer rushed onto the field as Bellinger hobbled around in obvious pain.
He gingerly walked up the first-base line and jogged past the bag in effort to shake off the sting of being hit. Bellinger remained in the game but continued to limp around throughout each of the next two at-bats and was removed between innings.
The Dodgers did not provide an update until after their walk-off win, when manager Dave Roberts relayed X-rays on Bellinger’s right knee were negative. While serious injury was avoided, Bellinger admitted he initially believed he’d suffered a fracture, via SportsNet LA:
“I didn’t really have any thoughts other than ‘ouch.’ Yeah, for sure (thought it was broken). I’ve never been hit there before, so it was new to me. I was sitting there for like a minute, waiting for [a trainer] and Doc to come. I gradually got better and better and better and started walking to first base. So I was like, ‘OK, it’s not broken or fractured, because I’m walking. So this is good.’ That’s why I continued to run the bases in case I could actually walk it off.”
Bellinger’s condition the following day was encouraging but he nevertheless was held out of the lineup. He did appear in the on-deck circle as pinch-hitter, though it was nothing more of a decoy in the eighth inning of a comfortable win for the Dodgers.
Bellinger returned to the lineup in Wednesday’s series finale, purposely at first base instead of right field with the hope it would alleviate some of the strain placed on his knee. Bellinger went 1-for-3 with a walk in his return.
The Dodgers don’t have an off day until Monday as they complete a stretch of 20 games in 21 days, including 17 in a row.