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Dodgers change course on Joc at first base

Bellinger will again play the position against righty starters
@kengurnick
August 1, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- The plug has been pulled on the Joc Pederson-as-first-baseman experiment. Pederson will resume outfield duties and Cody Bellinger will again play first base, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. Management reversed those roles in mid-June, as a reaction to a right shoulder injury Bellinger sustained diving for a

LOS ANGELES -- The plug has been pulled on the Joc Pederson-as-first-baseman experiment.

Pederson will resume outfield duties and Cody Bellinger will again play first base, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. Management reversed those roles in mid-June, as a reaction to a right shoulder injury Bellinger sustained diving for a grounder at first base.

Bellinger's injury, combined with a crowded outfield, led Pederson to try learning first base on the fly to increase his playing time. He encountered the predictable challenges with the speed of the infield game at the big league level.

“He’s worked his tail off to get better and I really applaud him,” said Roberts. “This gets Joc back in the outfield. That’s a decision we’ve made going forward.”

Recent improvement at the position has been obscured by several high-profile misplays, although Pederson said he was encouraged recently and would be open to a full Spring Training at the position.

Roberts said Bellinger would play first base against right-handed starting pitchers.

“Certain times Cody will be back in right field against left-handed pitching with Max Muncy at first base,” said Roberts.

Verdugo a late scratch

Alex Verdugo, who was in Thursday’s night’s starting lineup in left field, was a pregame scratch with left knee soreness. Verdugo went 4-for-4 in Wednesday’s series finale at Coors Field. Matt Beaty started in left field in place of Verdugo against the Padres.

New additions join the club

Both Wednesday acquisitions were in the clubhouse on Thursday. Left-handed reliever Adam Kolarek, obtained from Tampa Bay for Minor League outfielder Niko Hulsizer, was activated and the club optioned Caleb Ferguson to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Injured infielder Jedd Gyorko -- traded with international cap space and cash by the Cardinals for Tony Cingrani and Minor League pitcher Jeffry Abreu -- will join Double-A Tulsa on a rehab assignment on Friday as he heals from injuries to his back and hamstring, then surgery to remove a bone spur in his right wrist.

Gyorko said he hopes to be ready in 10 days, but Roberts said he would like Gyorko to get 40-50 at-bats, which sounds more like two weeks of games. Gyorko's last MLB action was June 6.

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