Reigning National League MVP Cody Bellinger was out of the Dodgers' lineup against the D-backs on Saturday night after opening the season with a .139 batting average and no home runs.
Bellinger, who rewrote the Dodgers record books in the first half last year en route to a 47-homer season, is 5-for-36 thus far and 1-for-19 on the current road trip. He was replaced in center field by the hot-hitting AJ Pollock, and left-handed hitter Matt Beaty was added to the lineup at first base.
Bellinger reported to Summer Camp with a tweaked setup in the batter’s box as a reaction to a relatively disappointing second half. Manager Dave Roberts said that over the past few games, Bellinger has gone back to “what he did last year.”
“The contact rate is still good, the angle and trajectory is not where you want it to be,” Roberts said of Bellinger’s swing. “He’s not [striking out]. There’s a combo of getting the mechanics synced up. I don’t think he looks comfortable, he’s still trying to figure some things out.
“I think there have been some calls that could go either way, and he’s on the wrong side of those calls. That’s the way it goes when you’re not going well. It’s more magnified right now, but he’ll work through it. He can take a day today to ease his mind, but also get some work in.”
Mookie Betts, who started his first year as a Dodger slowly, but not as slowly as Bellinger, indicated that with practice time at the ballpark limited by coronavirus protocols, it’s challenging for players to work their way out of slumps.
“That’s the rough part that people don’t see, but we have to find a way,” said Betts. “It’s like that for everybody. It’s no excuse. You have to find a way to get it done.”
• Right-hander Mitch White was recalled and fellow righy Tony Gonsolin was optioned on Saturday. Gonsolin was called up for one day to start in place of Alex Wood on Friday night and pitched four scoreless innings in a no-decision.
White’s stay could be just as short, as the Dodgers will need to open a spot on the 30-man roster for Clayton Kershaw to make his first start on Sunday after beginning the season on the injured list with a stiff back.