Although Cody Bellinger shook off his right shoulder popping out and back into place, the Los Angeles Dodgers played the remaining two games of the series against the San Diego Padres without MLB’s leading hitter in the lineup.
Bellinger and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts downplayed any concern over the shoulder trouble, and set an expectation he would be in Saturday’s lineup. One reason being Bellinger had previous experience with such an injury.
Nonetheless, residual soreness led to the Dodgers erring on the side of caution. “He was a little disappointed he wasn’t in there tonight, but I think the best thing was to give him an extra day,” Roberts explained.
Bellinger was deemed available to pinch-hit and while he appeared in the on-deck circle on multiple occasions, never stepped into the batter’s box. Included in that was heading back into the dugout and Austin Barnes instead pinch-hitting in the eighth inning, leaving the Dodgers with just one catcher.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of likelihood scoring a run right there,” Roberts said after his club’s 7-6 win. “You look at their ‘pen, they’ve got all right-handers left, so it was to save Cody for a spot where there’s a little more leverage.”
Bellinger did pinch-hit in the series finale, striking out in the eighth inning. While the shoulder issue kept him out of the lineup two straight games, there’s a sense of relief on the Dodgers’ part.
“Talking to trainers, I think it (also) happened a few years ago. This wasn’t as severe as last year, and I really can’t recall if he missed time or not last year because of it. But I know he’s on this shoulder strengthening program, which if he hadn’t been on, I would’ve hate to have seen what could’ve happened. I like to think we’ve got it under control.”
Bellinger’s health is imperative to the Dodgers’ long-term success this season as he’s carried the team thus far. He broke multiple MLB and Dodgers franchise records through April and was rewarded with being named National League Player of the Month.