LOS ANGELES -- Gavin Lux wants the focus to be on the Dodgers, their mission of a World Series and how he can help get them there as a Rookie of the Year candidate.
Lux wouldn’t discuss on Thursday why he was out of camp until this week, calling it “personal information -- I don’t really think it’s anyone’s business.” But he stressed that he continued to train throughout the absence, that he’s healthy and will be ready for Opening Day in a week.
“I’m here, ready to go and the focus is on moving forward,” said Lux. “I was in Wisconsin. A couple of Brewers guys stuck around and I got to work out with them and take live [batting practice], and I was able to stay ready for baseball that way.”
Lux is the one player other teams wanted over the winter, and the one player the Dodgers wouldn’t trade. He’s in line to become the franchise’s 19th National League Rookie of the Year, assuming he gets the playing time.
“I’d rather win a World Series than a Rookie of the Year, so that’s the main goal,” he said.
“I’d be lying if I said [Rookie of the Year] wasn’t [an individual goal], but it’s not the one.”
While plenty of publications are proclaiming Lux the likely ROY, manager Dave Roberts wouldn’t even name Lux his starting second baseman during Spring Training, and he stopped short of that again on Thursday, especially considering Lux’s late arrival.
“I don’t know about a leaderboard,” Roberts said of the second-base depth chart. “But, I think our goal is to get Gavin as many innings under his legs, try to build him as best we can.”
Roberts said simulated games would be held to get Lux and A.J. Pollock, another late arrival, additional at-bats in the next week. A left-handed hitter, Lux was only 1-for-12 last year against left-handed pitching during his September trial, so a platoon at the position wouldn’t be surprising, especially with versatile right-handed hitters Enrique Hernández and Chris Taylor available.
A first-round pick out of high school in 2016, expectations are the norm for Lux, and he lived up to them last September when he was promoted from Triple-A right into the starting lineup. He singled on the first pitch he saw, doubled in his second at-bat, scored three runs in his first game and became the youngest player to slug a postseason pinch-hit homer.
The few remaining skeptics might point to Lux’s .240 September batting average, or .222 postseason average, as signs that he still has questions to answer. But what rookie doesn’t?
“Getting up here, I think I wasn’t as comfortable as I was in the Minor Leagues,” he said. “Just be as confident as possible, go out there and not have any doubts. That’s the biggest thing.”
Lux grew up around the game as the nephew of former No. 2 overall pick Augie Schmidt, now the coach of Division III Carthage. A shortstop in high school, where Corey Seager plays, the Dodgers also schooled Lux at second base. So, when Max Muncy sustained a wrist fracture last year, Lux was called up to play second base and didn’t look out of position.
MLB Pipeline ranks Lux as the Dodgers’ No. 1 prospect and MLB’s No. 2 overall, behind Tampa Bay 18-year-old first baseman Wander Franco. Lux signed for $2,314,500 as the 20th overall choice and struggled especially on defense his first two pro seasons, but the light went on in 2018, when he reached Double-A at age 20.