Notes: Bellinger's shoulder; Muncy motivated

February 24th, 2021

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers star outfielder underwent right (non-throwing) shoulder surgery this offseason, and manager Dave Roberts is optimistic the 2019 National League MVP will be the starting center fielder when the team takes the field against the Rockies on April 1.

“I do expect him to be ready for Opening Day,” Roberts said. “If he’s not, we’ll adjust, and that’s OK. I think that’s his mindset. … Where he’s at right now physically, [he’s] right on track.”

After dislocating the shoulder several times in the past, including in Game 7 of the NL Championship Series against Atlanta while celebrating a home run with former teammate Enrique Hernández, Bellinger and the Dodgers decided to go through the procedure in hopes of resolving the issue. The recovery time was about 10 weeks.

On Tuesday, Bellinger was scheduled to take part in the team’s first full-squad workout. The outfielder took swings in the batting cage, according to Roberts, and was on the schedule to take BP on the field. Roberts said he didn’t see Bellinger take batting practice, and the field where he was hitting was not in sight from the designated media area.

“I think he’s a full participant, but again, I didn’t see him taking batting practice on the field today,” Roberts said. “He’s got a good program with the hitting guys. I didn’t see him, but my assumption is that he did.”

It’s unclear when the Dodgers have Bellinger scheduled to play in his first Cactus League game this spring.

Muncy’s motivation
is one of the best first basemen in the NL. In 2021, he’ll also be one of the most motivated.

Though Muncy hit three home runs in the postseason, helping the Dodgers win the World Series, the first baseman wasn’t pleased with his regular-season performance last year. Muncy hit .192 and finished with a .720 OPS in 2020, both easily the lowest since becoming a starter for the Dodgers in ’18.

“It’s definitely motivating,” Muncy said. “Personal stats never matter to me, but at the same time, all I want to do is win, and if I’m not performing well, I’m not giving the team the best chance to win. For me, that’s my biggest motivation. I have to turn things around in order to give the team a better chance to win.

“I have no doubt that if we would’ve had a full season, the numbers would’ve looked a lot better than what they were, but that being said, there are still no excuses, I have to perform better to start the year, and that’s what I’m planning on doing.”

Roberts’ message to the team
As part of the first full-squad workout, Roberts gathered the Dodgers to give them a formal welcome to camp.

This year, Roberts’ talking points included a look back at what the team accomplished last season, the passing of Tommy Lasorda and what the legendary manager meant to the organization, and the goal of winning the World Series again in 2021.

Stripling deal completed
The Dodgers acquired Minor League outfielder Ryan Noda from the Blue Jays to complete the Ross Stripling trade from last year. Noda is the second player to be named later, joining right-hander Kendall Williams.

Noda, 24, hit 13 home runs and finished with a .790 OPS for Class A Advanced Dunedin in 2019. He will join the Dodgers as a non-roster invitee in camp.

Quick hits
Catching prospect Keibert Ruiz is still not in camp due to a visa issue. Roberts said there is no timetable for his arrival.

Pitching prospect Jose Martinez isn’t in camp, also because of a visa issue, according to Roberts. Martinez is a non-roster invitee.

Roberts said everybody else is in camp and has received a negative COVID-19 test.