Dodgers Spring Training: Dave Roberts Remaining Confident As Cody Bellinger Works On Swing

Coming off the worst season of his career, Cody Bellinger is looking to prove last year was a fluke as he tries to get back to playing at an All-Star level for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Bellinger dealt with a fractured left fibula, hamstring trouble and non-displaced fracture in his left ribs last season, but recently said he is healthy and feeling stronger than during the 2021 campaign.

But despite his good health, Bellinger is now hitting just .158 in 19 at-bats during Spring Training. He has 14 strikeouts, four of which came in as many plate appearances on Saturday night. While there shouldn’t be too much stock put into spring stats, the struggles follows a season where he hit .165/.240/.302 in 95 games.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts nevertheless remains confident the 2019 National League MVP will be able to return to form because of the work he is putting in, via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:

“I don’t think there’s a spin to that,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “The bottom line is Cody is still working through getting calibrated, getting his timing down. Fortunately the stats don’t matter. But his work has been consistent. I expect him to be ready for the season.”

Bellinger has often tinkered with his swing and stance at the plate as he has changed it multiple times since the 2019 season. Last year, Bellinger debuted a more open stance, and this year he began Spring Training with his hands lower and more in front.

But even more recently, Bellinger went back to the form he used during his MVP season, which he is now able to do again with his increased strength.

Roberts doesn’t believe the adjustments in Bellinger’s stance and swing is behind any of the problems, reiterating that the issues are more about his timing:

“I think the stance, the approach he feels very comfortable about,” Roberts said. “I think there’s some things with timing that … all hitters go through it whether it’s early in spring, at the beginning of the season, middle of the season, end of the season. There’s always things where you’ve got to get the timing down. Everything goes from there. Right now, it’s clear that he’s just off a bit with the timing.”

Bellinger did show some hope last October when he hit .353/.436/.471 with one double, one home run and seven RBI in 12 games as one of the Dodgers most productive postseason hitters.

Following the injury-riddled season, Bellinger also changed his workout routine and he believes it will help him stay healthy throughout the season.

“I learned a lot here in the last year when I was working out during the season. How to maintain your body and maintain your strength throughout the whole season,” he recently said. “It was important for me. I feel like I’m going to be able to keep my strength the whole season.”

The Dodgers showed their faith in Bellinger during the offseason by signing him to a one-year contract for $17 million prior to the MLB lockout to avoid arbitration. It was briefly speculated Bellinger could be a non-tender candidate, which would have made him a free agent.

Bellinger learning from struggles and feeling good

Bellinger was encouraged by his late season turnaround during the 2021 postseason and believes he can learn from the struggles he faced throughout the season.

“Towards the end I really dialed in what made my good and why I’m good. Just try to go from there and keep learning and adjusting,” Bellinger said.

“It was a grind last year, to say the least. But it’s in the past. Like I’ve said, it’s been a huge learning curve the past few years. As I’m hitting in batting practice right now, I feel good, I feel strong, feel compact. I focused a lot on my shoulder, a lot on stabilizing my body and getting it strong. I’m feeling good.”

Have you subscribed to the Dodger Blue YouTube channel? Be sure to ring the notification bell to watch player interviews, participate in shows and giveaways, and stay up to date on all Dodgers news and rumors!