Max Muncy's elbow passes first spring test

Dodgers infielder takes swings against White Sox; Taylor limited to DH role

March 22nd, 2022

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- For the first time since suffering a torn UCL in his left elbow on October 3, Dodgers infielder Max Muncy went through his game action in the 8-6 loss to the White Sox on Monday afternoon at Camelback Ranch. 

Muncy started at third base and played three innings, going 0-for-1 with a strikeout and a walk. The main focus for Muncy this spring is to continue to strengthen and build confidence in the elbow. He appeared to pass the first test.

“It felt good to be back,” Muncy said. “The elbow felt fine doing ABs against guys in the back field, but you get a little adrenaline going and see how it feels with those types of swings. It felt good today.”

Having a healthy Muncy will be key for the Dodgers. The team has no doubt that the infielder will be a big contributor this season, even if his role looks a bit different than it did in 2021.

After starting 122 games at first base last season, Muncy will see more time at second and third base now that Freddie Freeman will be the team’s starting first baseman. Bouncing around in the infield is something Muncy has done in the past. Last week, Muncy said second base is his favorite position. He will also see time at designated hitter, now that it has been implemented in the National League.  

“Obviously, he can play first base if something unforeseen happens -- or something crazy like Freddie takes a day off,” manager Dave Roberts said with a smile, alluding to Freeman’s durability. “Right now, it’s just more of getting him up to speed at third base.” 

Regardless of where Muncy plays in the field, the Dodgers will rely on his All-Star production in the middle of the lineup. Muncy was the team’s most consistent hitter last season, posting a .895 OPS and a team-high 36 homers. His loss was particularly felt during the postseason when the Dodgers struggled to post their normal production.

This spring, the Dodgers were initially trying to restrict the amount of times Muncy faced live pitching. The purpose behind that was in order to cut down Muncy's number of swings and misses, a movement that could cause some added stress to a healing elbow. 

But after a couple of live at-bats in the back fields, the club and Muncy felt good with his progression. And despite swinging and missing through a pair of pitches in his first at-bat, it was a positive day at the plate for the infielder. 

Muncy did, however, say that one of the next steps will be to continue working on his swing. He said his mechanics haven’t been compromised as he builds trust in the elbow. Muncy also mentioned that he might need a couple more games to get past the mental hurdle of having confidence in the elbow. 

“I think we’re closer than what it looks,” Muncy said. “It’s been feeling really good the last couple of days, but the most important thing is the health of the elbow and I think it’s going well.” 

Taylor underwent offseason surgery

On Monday, Roberts mentioned that Chris Taylor has been limited to a designated hitter role so far this spring because the utility man underwent a minor procedure on his right elbow. Taylor said the elbow was bothering him at the end of last season.

“It was like wear and tear over the years,” Taylor said. “But it was definitely like something that was bothering me more in September and October.”

Taylor remains on a throwing program so far this spring, but Roberts said Taylor will play second base in a Cactus League game in the near future. Taylor signed a four-year, $60 million deal with the Dodgers in December.

Injury news

• AJ Pollock was originally scheduled to be in Monday’s lineup against the White Sox, but the left fielder was a late scratch. Roberts said Pollock requested a day off as he dealt with general body soreness.

• Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes, who hit a two-run homer against the White Sox, left the game in the fourth inning after taking a foul tip to the mask. Roberts said Barnes was feeling “a little foggy,” and he will go through some tests. The team will wait and see how he feels on Tuesday.