When the Los Angeles Dodgers placed AJ Pollock on the 10-day injury list last week, the initial plan was for Cody Bellinger to receive regular playing time after previously being relegated to a platoon role due to his struggles against left-handed pitching this season.
Bellinger’s woes continued as he went hitless in five consecutive starts from Sept. 5-9. It led to being benched in this past Friday’s series opener against the San Diego Padres, although he did enter the game as a defensive replacement.
Bellinger went on to start in two of the next three games and found more success at the plate, collecting two doubles across eight at-bats. While it’s too soon to tell if he’s on the cusp of a turnaround, Justin Turner has been encouraged with Bellinger’s swings and attitude.
“That’s just it: the confidence. When hits start falling, you just feel better about it,” Turner said of Bellinger’s recent plate appearances.
“It’s one thing to hit balls hard and keep getting out over and over again, and trying to stay positive. Once you start actually seeing results, it really helps you take that next step forward.
“I told him the luck is kind of turning around for him. He’s been extremely unlucky, hitting a lot of balls hard right at people. He gets a dropped pop-up by the catcher, and next pitch, it’s a double.
“That’s huge for us. He’s going to be a big bat and the way he plays Gold Glove in center field, obviously we want him in the lineup every day.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts agreed with Turner’s assessment and believes Bellinger looks like a different player offensively. “I’m really impressed with how quick he’s been able to trust it and apply it into a Major League game as far as the new stance, swing path and all that,” Roberts said.
“He and the hitting guys are working tirelessly, and to see some results so quickly is fantastic and just kind of adds to the confidence. He’s taking really good at-bats.
“You can see everyone pulling for him, and to see him get some results and impact us on the offensive side of the baseball, I know he feels a lot better and is sleeping a lot better these last few nights.”
Roberts confident Bellinger can salvage season
Prior to Bellinger’s recent offensive resurgence, Roberts expressed confidence he would be able to redeem himself before the end of the season. “I think the No. 1 thing is a reset as far as where we’re at in September and make this his season,” Roberts said.
“I think when you try to chase numbers to salvage a season, statistically, that can be hard and a toll. Continue to work, which he’s working tirelessly, and just try to come in fresh to help us win a ballgame.
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