Cody Bellinger shrugged off concern over his right shoulder popping out of its socket while he was celebrating during the Dodgers' win in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday, and manager Dave Roberts had him in the lineup, batting sixth and playing center field, for Game 1 of the World Series against the Rays on Tuesday night
Nonetheless, Roberts conceded Bellinger was not 100 percent on Monday. The injury occurred when Bellinger forearm-bashed teammate Enrique Hernández during Los Angeles' dramatic Game 7 win over Atlanta.
“As I understand it, he’s still a little bit sore,” Roberts said Monday. “It’s a loose shoulder. How we handle it going forward is another question. But I think, as far as right now, we’re going to tape it up. There’s a brace that we ordered, and I expect him to be in there [Tuesday] night.
“After it came out, defense wasn’t the problem. Potentially, it was swinging the bat, so I’m assuming right now he can swing the bat. Unless I hear otherwise, and if that’s the case, we’ll go in a different direction."
Bellinger appeared to be in pain when he reached the Dodgers' dugout, but he remained in Sunday’s game until the end, recording the final out by catching Austin Riley’s fly ball to center field.
“Oh, my shoulder’s feeling pretty good. I know it's happened to me a few times,” Bellinger said.
Bellinger has dealt with the chronic condition since he first injured the shoulder diving for a ground ball when he was a first baseman. The injury was a contributing factor to his move to the outfield, where he’s won an NL Gold Glove Award. He said this most recent occurrence is no worse than the others.
“It's all the same,” Bellinger said. “That's the third or fourth time I've done it. Maybe the third time I've done it, it's all the same and the next day is the same. So, I already know, I already expected what to feel and how I was going to feel. But I feel good right now.”
Bellinger started 38 games in center field this year, while AJ Pollock (15), Chris Taylor (five) and Hernández (two) also made starts there.
• Third baseman Justin Turner, who had a key walk and a heads-up defensive play in Game 7, said he was impressed with his teammates talking baseball rather than celebrating after Sunday night’s win, as well as a continuation of that work ethic when Monday’s workout was made optional by Roberts.
“We feel good, we know what’s in front of us and the opportunity we have,” Turner said. “It’s an optional day today, both buses were packed full of guys getting ready for [Tuesday].”
According to Turner, the Dodgers are embracing the reality of a World Series between the two teams with the best records during the regular season.
“When you’re on this road to win the World Series, you’ve got to beat the best to be the best, and that’s what this World Series is going to be about,” Turner said. “The Rays played seven games in seven days as well and travel today, so there’s no excuse for anyone. Got to go out and play good baseball.”
• Outfielder Mookie Betts sort of bristled at the comparison of the big-market Dodgers to the small-market Rays, as if that should have anything to do with the outcome.
“The small-market thing, that’s not on the players,” Betts said. “Those guys are ballplayers, and they’re there to win the World Series, just like we are. They’re just in a spot where it’s a small market. But they didn’t make it to the World Series on accident. They’re good ballplayers.”