LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers star outfielder Cody Bellinger stood inside the visiting dugout at Petco Park for a few innings last weekend, wishing he was on the field for what turned out to be a thrilling three-game series against the Padres.
With the Padres in Los Angeles for a four-game set, Bellinger will experience some of the same feelings. But Bellinger, who has been out of the lineup since April 6 with a hairline fracture on his left fibula, is still focusing on his rehab.
“It’s just a slow process,” Bellinger said Thursday. “It’s more so pain tolerance at this point. I’ve just been in the training room, been working out. Can’t really do much until the bone necessarily heals.”
Once the bone heals, Bellinger said he’ll be “ready to go.” Once that happens, Bellinger will have to go to the alternate training site in Arizona to get in a handful of at-bats. Bellinger and the Dodgers don’t know when that’ll be, because the injury timetable varies player to player.
“I can’t put like a return date on it, because once it heals, I’m ready to go,” Bellinger said. “It’s a super strange thing. I talked to a few people that have had it, and they said that you’ll wake up one day and it’ll be like, ‘Oh, I’m ready to run.’ So it’s just one of those things.”
When A’s reliever Reymin Guduan accidentally cleated Bellinger on a close play at first, the Dodgers initially believed he would be back in a few days. Once they placed Bellinger on the 10-day injured list, they hoped it would be a minimal stint. Initial test results didn’t show a significant injury.
But after Bellinger began running as part of his rehab, he felt a sharp pain in the calf area. He knew there was something wrong. A CT scan then revealed the hairline fracture. Bellinger, who missed most of Spring Training as he recovered from offseason shoulder surgery, said it’s been “frustrating” to miss more time.
“It’s not fun. It’s honestly extremely boring,” Bellinger said. “I’m just ready to get healthy, man, and play. I miss it a lot.”
Bellinger has been rehabbing over the last two weeks. On Thursday, he took part in batting practice on the field for the first time since the injury, representing another step in the right direction.
“Now that we kind of understand what the diagnosis is, I think it has helped him move forward a little bit,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “I’ve heard that it’s been better each day. Certainly seeing him back in a [batting practice] group is a good thing.”
Betts back in, Taylor and McKinstry scratched
After missing Tuesday’s game against the Mariners with a right forearm injury, star outfielder Mookie Betts returned to the Dodgers’ lineup on Thursday against the Padres. Betts hit leadoff and started in center field.
Betts was initially scheduled to play right field, but Chris Taylor was a late scratch due to lower back tightness. Taylor, who has been an integral part of the Dodgers’ success this season, has been the main replacement for Bellinger in center.
Zach McKinstry was also scratched with lower back stiffness. He was replaced by Luke Raley in right field.
Gavin Lux took ground balls on the field before Thursday’s game, and the infielder continues to progress well from a right wrist issue that landed him on the injured list last Friday.
Lux will head to the alternate training site to play in games on Friday and Saturday. There’s a chance he takes extra at-bats on Sunday, if needed. If all of that goes well, Lux will be back with the Dodgers when he’s eligible to come off the IL on Monday against the Reds.
In his absence, McKinstry and Sheldon Neuse are expected to continue to get most of the opportunities at second base. When healthy, Taylor gives the Dodgers another option.