Notes: Belli, Kelly updates; pitching plans

April 28th, 2021

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers have been depleted with injuries over the last few weeks, but they are getting some encouraging news when it comes to star outfielder and right-hander .

Bellinger has been out since April 6 as he recovers from a hairline fracture on his left fibula, but the Dodgers’ star outfielder is “trending in the right way,” according to manager Dave Roberts.

When the Dodgers board the plane to Milwaukee to begin their three-city road trip on Thursday, Bellinger is scheduled to head to the team’s alternate training site in Arizona to continue his rehab. Bellinger has been taking batting practice almost every day, and Roberts said the pain in the area has subsided.

Bellinger went through a 40-percent body-weight running drill, according to Roberts, and came out of that feeling good. Once he’s in Arizona, he’ll consistently get live at-bats, in order to keep his body moving.

“He’s doing great,” Roberts said. “Once that fracture heals, coinciding with the live at-bats, hopefully we can hit the ground running when he’s healed.”

Until Bellinger returns, the Dodgers will continue to trot out Chris Taylor and Mookie Betts in center field.

As for Kelly, the right-hander could be getting close to making his season debut. Kelly has been out since the start of Spring Training with an undisclosed injury, but he has spent the last few weeks at the alternate training site. He has made about four appearances, according to Roberts, and is scheduled to pitch another inning on Wednesday.

Can Kelly be a possibility for the Dodgers at some point during the upcoming road trip?

“Joe is going to pitch tomorrow, so, yeah, certainly,” Roberts said. “Depending on how he comes out of that, yeah, it’s a possibility.”

If Kelly is able to rejoin the club soon, he could give the Dodgers another much-needed leverage pitcher out of the bullpen. This week, the Dodgers have lost Corey Knebel for multiple months with a lat strain, and David Price will be sidelined for a few weeks with a Grade 2 hamstring strain.

Kelly finished with a 1.80 ERA in 12 regular season appearances last season. He didn’t get much work in the postseason, only making five appearances in October. His last appearance was Game 2 of the World Series, a loss against the Rays.

Pitching plans
With the Dodgers currently in the middle of playing 14 games in consecutive days and 17 games in 18 days, the club is thinking about employing a bullpen game at some point during the upcoming series against the Brewers in order to give their rotation an extra day of rest.

Roberts said Trevor Bauer will start on Thursday in Milwaukee, but their plans for the following three games are still up in the air. Originally, the team was leaning toward having Price pitching multiple innings as part of a bullpen game on Friday, but that won’t be possible with the left-hander now on the injured list.

A lot of the plans will be determined by how much length Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw and Bauer give them over the next three days. Jimmy Nelson and Dennis Santana can give the Dodgers multiple innings. Nelson is capable of going two innings, while Santana can go up to three.

“We just have to read and react,” Roberts said.

Vaccination updates
Following Monday’s game against the Reds, a number of Dodgers players received one of their COVID-19 vaccine shots. It’s unclear whether it was the first or second shot. Roberts did say that the most-recent wave of players getting the shot still doesn’t get the team to the 85-percent threshold that would relax some of the protocols in the clubhouse and on the road.

Roberts added that he’s fully vaccinated and that the club is still optimistic about reaching the threshold, and soon.

“I think we’re in the 80 percentile. I don’t know if it’s 85 percent,” Roberts said. “We’re trying to get there, but we’re just not quite there yet. I don’t think this [round] will, but maybe in a little over a week we’ll be there, hopefully.”

Roster moves
Just before Tuesday’s game against the Reds, the Dodgers made a couple of roster moves. L.A. recalled outfielder DJ Peters and left-hander Garrett Cleavinger from the alternate training site and placed left-hander Victor González and right-hander Mitch White on the injured list. Roberts mentioned on Tuesday that some players might get placed on the injured list due to side effects from a vaccination.