To say the 2021 season has been difficult for Cody Bellinger would be an understatement. He is among the Los Angeles Dodgers who have been injured and enters play Friday sporting career-lows in several categories, including batting average (.168), on-base plus slugging percentage (.557) and extra-base hits (10).
Bellinger has appeared in only 50 games as a result of having endured two separate injured list stints. The first was due to a hairline fracture in his left fibula and the other stemmed from left hamstring tightness.
Of course, Bellinger’s injury woes date back to last season when he dislocated his shoulder in the National League Championship Series and required offseason surgery. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts surmised that the 26-year-old’s slump is related to the operation.
“He’s grinding. He’s been grinding,” Roberts began. “It’s been a difficult time for him trying to perform at this level and still trying to get that front shoulder strength when you’re recovering from a surgery.
“Dodger fans know, whether it’s Adrian Gonzalez having to go through that, Matt Kemp going through that same type of thing, that first year out is tough. Cody’s going through it.
“I think for me, continuing to try to run him out there, give him confidence to get that swing right. But the guys that are playing, we still have to win baseball games. That has to be the most important thing.”
In the wake of Bellinger’s recent struggles, Roberts recently dropped him to eighth in the Dodgers lineup. Roberts typically looks to avoid doing this, which was evident by keeping Max Muncy in the cleanup spot amid his rough patch last season and part of this year.
Roberts, however, felt moving Bellinger down was in the best of the team’s interest. “Every situation and every player is different. Even with Max, he was still getting on base and helping us in his role right there in the middle of the order,” Roberts explained.
“Right now, to give Cody a breather, let the game come to him, hit him at the bottom, you can still do that. When you still have a .380 on-base percentage like Max did, that’s still a lot of value.”
Bellinger quietly found success against Astros
Although Bellinger has struggled for the better part of the 2021 season, he went a combined 2-for-7 with one double in the Dodgers’ recent series against the Houston Astros.
Bellinger overall is on a three-game hitting streak and has recorded four hits in his last 12 at-bats.
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