Tom Koehler’s Los Angeles Dodgers career effectively began and ended during 2018 Spring Training. It was then that he suffered an anterior capsule strain in his right shoulder.
He had been signed to a one-year contract that offseason and was expected to play a significant role in the team’s bullpen. However, those plans went haywire. Koehler was originally expected to avoid surgery and potentially return by the All-Star break.
However, his timeline slipped into the second half and he ultimately underwent shoulder surgery last July. Koehler still rooted the team on from afar, especially on social media, as the Dodgers won the National League pennant for the second straight year.
The Dodgers did not re-sign Koehler after the season and he eventually ended up with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Even though he never appeared in a regular season game with them, the Dodgers still gave Koehler a 2018 NL Championship ring, which he recently posted on Instagram to express his gratitude:
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Thank you @dodgers. Deep down I feel like I am undeserving of this. Again I want to thank all the trainers PT’s and coaches that never gave up on me getting back last year no matter how lost of a cause it may have been. This is a very classy gesture by a very classy group of people. I will be forever grateful. Good luck… except vs the @pittsburghpirates
Koehler has never seemed to say anything negative about the Dodgers organization despite his time with them obviously not going as planned.
Not every member of that 2018 Dodgers team received their NL Championship ring as warmly, though. When the Cincinnati Reds visited Dodger Stadium in April, former Dodgers Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and Kyle Farmer were all formally given their rings by manager Dave Roberts and the team’s front office.
But Yasiel Puig, the focus of the trade that sent him and the other three to Cincinnati, skipped the meeting. He later said he did not care about receiving his ring in person.
Puig has criticized Roberts and other parts of the Dodgers organization since leaving Los Angeles, though he remained positive when reflecting on his interactions with fans and is still friends with some former teammates.
The 2018 Dodgers that remained with the team in 2019 received their rings in a pregame clubhouse ceremony during the first week of the season.