Bellinger pulled for lack of hustle vs. Giants
SAN FRANCISCO -- Dodgers manager Dave Roberts benched 2017 National League Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger for not hustling on a double during Sunday's 4-2 loss to the Giants.
The move came as a complete surprise to Bellinger.
"I feel like I'm always hustling, hustling on ground balls, and it kind of didn't make sense to me," said Bellinger. "But I get it as well. Just trying to prove a point, for me not hustling, being the young guy, got to hustle."
The play in question was Bellinger's fifth-inning double to the 421-foot sign in right-center, referred to at AT&T Park as "Triples Alley." Bellinger (who singled in his first at-bat) took a big swing, went down to a knee, was slow getting out of the box and settled for a double. Two batters later, he was doubled off second on James Farmer's lineout to shortstop.
"I felt there wasn't hustle on the play," said Roberts. "The ball he hit went 421 feet into right-center field, he cruised into second base and for me, I just feel he's too talented of a player, for a team competing every day and grinding. We've got a right fielder [Enrique Hernandez] out there who had the chills the day prior, throwing up, and [he's] diving around out there. For Cody not to be on third base, it's something we talked about before. I wouldn't be doing him or the team any service by not acting."
Bellinger saw the play differently.
"I took a big swing on a curveball and went down on my knee," he said of his slow start out of the box. "We're down four runs, I'm not trying to make an out on the bases at third and be the first out. That was my reasoning. He saw what he saw, so it's all good. I'm never going to dog it."
Bellinger wasn't even sure if he was lifted for not hustling getting to second or for getting doubled off the bag on the line drive, down four runs.
"Can't get doubled off there," he said. "I got in the dugout, he said I was out of the game. Didn't know any reason. I guess I was a little surprised; at the same time, just trying to prove a point. I don't know, who knows? I'm not inside his mind."
Roberts said there would be no further discipline. Bellinger confirmed he had been reprimanded by Roberts several weeks ago for not turning a single into a double on a ball that dropped in. Roberts said he didn't ask Bellinger for an explanation Sunday.
"I didn't need an explanation; I saw it pretty clear," Roberts said. "We've talked about it before. He plays every day, certain expectations in the way we have to play the game. When you don't abide by that, we'll get somebody in there that will. It's pretty simple."
One full inning after the incident, Roberts replaced Bellinger at first base with Player Page for Max Muncy. Throughout the Dodgers' 12-15 start, Roberts had praised his club for the effort. But not Sunday.
"If guys aren't, it's on me," he said. "Wins and losses, we're going to have those. The players and coaches are preparing the right way, but if guys aren't playing hard -- and that's not just showing up, posting is not playing hard. Playing hard is effort when you're out there, then that's on me."
Bellinger, however, insisted he did nothing wrong on the double.
"I'm going to keep playing the way I do. I don't think anybody can tell me how to play; I always play hard," he said, insisting there won't be any carryover from the drama.
"It's over," he said. "We go out tomorrow, hopefully beat the D-backs."