Bellinger 'feels good' upon return to Dodgers

June 24th, 2021

SAN DIEGO -- Up to this point, it’s been the toughest season of Cody Bellinger’s MLB career.

Bellinger missed most of Spring Training as he continued his rehab after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder. Once he returned, he played with his mechanics for a few games, trying to get back in the swing of things.

Then, five games into the regular season, Bellinger sustained a hairline fracture in his left fibula on a freak play in which he was cleated by A’s pitcher Reymin Guduan while trying to beat out an infield single on April 5.

Bellinger returned in late May, and just as he was starting to get into a groove, he went down again. This time, it was a left hamstring injury, one he felt as he jumped out of the way on a pitch that nearly hit him on June 11 against the Rangers.

Because of the string of injuries, Bellinger had missed 53 of the Dodgers’ 73 games heading into Wednesday’s series finale against the Padres. He was activated before the game, then started in center field and batted fourth. Bellinger went 0-for-2 with two walks and a run scored in the 5-3 loss.

“It hasn’t been fun,” Bellinger said of his IL stints. “Hopefully, this is the last time we say, ‘Back again,' you know what I mean? But the hamstring feels really good. The body feels good, and obviously, I’m excited to get back on the field and not watch from the sideline.”

Not only has 2021 not been fun for Bellinger, but a lack of consistent at-bats has played a role in the star outfielder’s diminished production thus far. He entered Wednesday batting .226 with one homer and an 83 OPS+, which would be the lowest of his career.

Luckily for Bellinger, he still has plenty of time to turn things around. And he and the Dodgers believe he will, just by being on the field.

“For me, honestly, I’m so over like the number aspect,” Bellinger said. “Personally, for me, it’s just helping this team win any way I can. Doing the little things right. Just playing the game of baseball. I’m a pretty good baseball player, so just doing all the all-around things, and that’s what I look forward to. And just having fun with it.”

Bellinger's return is a huge boost for a Dodgers lineup that has been riddled with injuries all season, a big reason for their inconsistencies despite being one of the most productive lineups in the Majors. Los Angeles got Max Muncy back on Tuesday and is hopeful Corey Seager can return before the All-Star break.

The Dodgers have had only a handful of games with the lineup they dreamed of at the start of the season. They could now be getting closer to full strength.

“You get two All-Star players, and it adds to the length and enhances the defense,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I know Cody is excited about being there, and Max is excited about [Tuesday] night and being around this environment. Having those guys here makes us all better.”