Cody Bellinger underwent right shoulder surgery nearly three weeks after helping the Los Angeles Dodgers win the 2020 World Series, and it wound up putting him on a difficult path for the ensuing season.
Bellinger was behind other players in Spring Training and continued to work on the strength and range of motion in his surgically-repaired shoulder as Opening Day of the 2021 season arrived. That was then interrupted in some regard as he was spiked in the left calf during the fifth game of the year.
Persistent pain prompted additional testing on the leg, during which it was discovered Bellinger sustained a hairline fracture in his left fibula. He missed almost two months and later dealt with hamstring trouble and a non-displaced fracture in his left ribs.
The injury-plagued season amounted to Bellinger posting career-lows in several statistics, but he performed well in the playoffs and now has capitalized on the past few months.
“My offseason has been amazing,” Bellinger said from the sixth annual Justin Turner Golf Classic. “Obviously being a dad, you want all the time in the world, but I want to get going. I’m ready and I’m excited for the season. Hopefully things get figured out so we can get going.
“I feel really good. I do. My shoulder is feeling better. I’ve just been doing the proper lifts to feel good and I’m swinging the bat. I’m feeling pretty good about it. My body is feeling good and my shoulder is feeling a lot, a lot better.”
Although players have not been permitted to have contact with any team personnel during the MLB lockout, Bellinger said his offseason has still be relatively normal and centered around workouts with other players in the Scottsdale area.
“It’ll be different in a few weeks, for sure,” Bellinger acknowledged. “Normally we’d go out before it officially starts to get our work in, get acclimated as usual. But until then, it’s about the same. In Arizona we have a bunch of facilities, so that’s a blessing to have.”
Despite the down year, Bellinger and the Dodgers worked out a new contract prior to the lockout beginning by agreeing to a one-year, $17 million deal and avoiding arbitration.
Bellinger learning from fatherhood
Like several other athletes who became a father during their respective careers, Bellinger has a newfound outlook.
“I think being a dad puts a lot of things into perspective. It’s just been a beautiful offseason for me. Trying to get the parent-life down, and I think we’re doing a pretty good job. It’s been a really good offseason,” he said.
“It puts things in perspective. You don’t realize how selfish you really are as a person until you have a baby. You’re like, ‘Oh man. This is the only thing that really matters right now.’ It’s been amazing. I couldn’t be happier.”
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