Bellinger out of lineup due to rib fracture

Roberts: 'It's just sore ... it shouldn't affect him moving forward'

September 18th, 2021

CINCINNATI -- Cody Bellinger was originally scheduled to start Saturday’s game in Cincinnati, but manager Dave Roberts opted instead to rest the outfielder. Bellinger, according to Roberts, has a non-displaced rib fracture stemming from a collision with Gavin Lux in left-center field during a series against the D-backs earlier in the week.

“Cody was going to be in there,” Roberts said, referring to Saturday’s lineup vs. the Reds. “[The fracture] is pretty benign, but there's still some pain there. Just give Cody a day and he’ll be back in there tomorrow.”

Lux, who was scratched from Friday’s starting nine after he was hit on the right forearm, was back in the lineup Saturday, playing left field and hitting seventh. Roberts, who surmised after Friday’s game that Lux would be sideline a couple of days, said Lux is a “quick healer.”

The Dodgers will hope for the same for Bellinger. Prior to the series opener at Great American Ball Park on Friday, the attention on Bellinger was related to his efforts to adjust his batting stance, which involved in part lowering his hands and being “more athletic; simplify things,” according to Roberts. The narrative changed quickly, less than 24 hours later.

Roberts sounded unalarmed when he mentioned Bellinger’s rib cage fracture, emphasizing that the injury won’t worsen by playing through it.

Bellinger has struggled at the plate throughout the season, prompting the decision to tinker with his batting stance. The outfielder is hitting .159 with nine homers and 34 RBIs through 89 games.

Roberts said Bellinger feels the rib injury more when he’s throwing than hitting.

“It’s the left side, so [it's more] when he’s throwing in the outfield. Right now, it’s just sore,” Roberts said. “I’m sure there might be something with the swinging, too. He’s confident he’ll be in there tomorrow and it shouldn’t affect him moving forward.”

Bellinger missed 46 games earlier this season due to a hairline fracture in his left fibula, and 10 games because of left hamstring tightness. By comparison, the rib injury might turn out to be the least worrisome of the three, but it also just adds to a list of frustrating setbacks for the outfielder, who is just two seasons removed from being named National League MVP.

“For Cody, individually, it’s been a tough season,” Roberts said. “It’s been a grind because of all of the things that have come up with him. I applaud him for continuing to work to help us win ball games and [attempt to] win a championship.”