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Notes: Swing change paying off for Enrique

@kengurnick
February 27, 2020

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Enrique Hernández started at second base in the Dodgers’ 6-5 win over Cleveland on Thursday, and despite the understandable hype over Gavin Lux, there’s no assurance that Lux, the No. 2 prospect in the Majors per MLB Pipeline, will even make the Opening Day roster. Manager Dave

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Enrique Hernández started at second base in the Dodgers’ 6-5 win over Cleveland on Thursday, and despite the understandable hype over Gavin Lux, there’s no assurance that Lux, the No. 2 prospect in the Majors per MLB Pipeline, will even make the Opening Day roster.

Manager Dave Roberts has stopped short of saying that Lux, given the job at the end of last season, has been given the job this year. Meanwhile, Hernández is slugging away, his confidence boosted by a mechanical adjustment he worked on all winter and showed off with a three-run bomb in the first inning Thursday.

“I’m a guy with very loose hips, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing in baseball, but in my case it’s like my enemy,” Hernández said. “My hip flies open. Now I get myself in a better position to be more efficient and direct to the ball with my upper half.

“It was literally the workout day before the playoffs that I said I was going to do this, and [I] started hitting the ball really far in BP and had good at-bats in the postseason. It was the quality of the at-bat, recognize pitches early and be on time. I was just messing around, and it turned out it worked.”

With Hernández and Chris Taylor, the Dodgers have right-handed-hitting second-base candidates who can be platooned with Max Muncy when he slides over to second base and Cody Bellinger plays first, which Roberts has indicated is in this year’s playbook.

• Bullpen fixture Pedro Báez and lefty candidate Adam Kolarek each pitched a scoreless inning of relief against the Indians after an impressive two-inning start from Tony Gonsolin.

“It’s as good as I’ve seen him, as far as the entire mix,” Roberts said of Gonsolin, who allowed one hit and no runs while striking out three. “I don’t see why he couldn’t [pitch his way onto the club]. Our message to Tony is to go out there and keep competing and force our hand.”

• Right-hander Jimmy Nelson, signed as a free agent after two years of injuries, has been shut down again after experiencing what Roberts termed “lower body discomfort” during his Wednesday bullpen session. Earlier in camp, Nelson was slowed by groin and lower back stiffness. He pitched 22 innings last year, his first MLB action since 2017, when he blew out his shoulder diving back to a base.

• Taylor returned to the lineup after missing three games with a sore right forearm, but Joc Pederson missed his sixth game with a sore side/hip.

Up next
Clayton Kershaw makes his first Cactus League appearance this year with a start against the Brewers and Brandon Woodruff in Phoenix on Friday at 12:05 p.m. CT. Kershaw didn’t pitch in the Cactus League last year because of a sore shoulder. Also scheduled to pitch is former top prospect Yadier Álvarez, who is trying to pitch his way off the restricted list after disciplinary issues last year.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.