Notes: Price getting close; Ruiz to Triple-A

May 12th, 2021

LOS ANGELES -- Due to injuries and inexperience, the Dodgers’ bullpen has struggled over the last few weeks, but it could be getting a big piece back in the near future.

Left-hander , who has been out since April 25 with a Grade 2 hamstring strain, threw off the mound at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday. He also took part in fielding drills, in order to test the hamstring.

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner tracked pitches in the box against Price and gave the left-hander multiple thumbs ups after pitches. Manager Dave Roberts also watched Price’s session and came away impressed.

“I’ve seen some videos of his 'pens, but just to see him live, [it was] really good,” Roberts said. “He didn’t seem like he was holding anything back. He took some PFPs and it didn’t seem like he was compensating at all in his delivery, and the stuff was good.”

If Price doesn’t experience soreness or any other ailment from Tuesday’s session, he will then throw to hitters again later this week. If that goes well, Price could either go through one more session against hitters or could be activated to the active roster. Roberts doesn’t think Price will need a rehab assignment, but that decision will be up to the 35-year-old.

“I actually would be surprised if he chooses to go out on assignment,” Roberts said. “It hasn’t been that long, in our opinion. Our hope is for him to go out and face some hitters, whether it’s once or twice, and then be activated.”

When Price returns, he will be entrusted with the same role he was in before the injury, a multi-inning high-leverage reliever. Price was open to the idea of coming out of the bullpen during Spring Training and was starting to settle in nicely in his new role. He recorded his first big league save on April 15. He then completed his first back-to-back appearance of his career, earning the win in the extra-inning contest against the Padres on April 16. Price has a 5.59 ERA this season, but he has only allowed one run in his last five appearances.

His return will be well-received by a Dodgers team that has been asking young pitchers such as Mitch White, Dennis Santana, Garrett Cleavinger and Alex Vesia to get big outs. During the forgettable 2-8 road trip, the Dodgers’ bullpen had a 4.54 ERA. It's six blown saves were the most by any team during that span.

The Dodgers have seven relievers currently on the injured list. Price’s return can’t come soon enough.

Roster move
Before Tuesday’s series opener against the Mariners, the Dodgers recalled outfielder from Triple-A Oklahoma City and optioned catcher to Triple-A.

Raley gives the Dodgers a left-handed-hitting outfielder who can play both corners. With AJ Pollock still nursing a Grade 1 hamstring injury, the Dodgers wanted to be covered. Sheldon Neuse got the start in left field against the left-hander Yusei Kikuchi on Tuesday.

The move also allows Ruiz to get more playing time at Triple-A, which the Dodgers believe is important for his development. Ruiz is the Dodgers’ No. 1 prospect, per MLB Pipeline. Ruiz was behind Will Smith and Austin Barnes on the team’s depth chart.

“There’s an overall net that we have to decide on, having him around but not getting every at-bat, understanding he didn’t play at all last year,” Roberts said. “Versus going down and playing and developing.”

Inside the trainer’s room
• It appears Pollock will avoid the injured list. The outfielder has been out since suffering his hamstring strain on Saturday against the Angels. He was available to pinch-hit on Tuesday, and the Dodgers hope to have him back in the lineup either Wednesday or Friday after Thursday's off-day.

• Cody Bellinger posted to Instagram a video of himself running, which is another encouraging step in his recovery. Bellinger, who has been out since April 6 with a hairline fracture on his left fibula, was running at “say, 60 percent,” according to Roberts and is still not close to returning. Because of the time missed, Bellinger will have to prove that he can play a full game and run the outfield without any pain. A lengthy rehab assignment will be in store for him, when he begins to feel 100 percent physically.

• Tony Gonsolin will continue his rehab later this week, as he’s scheduled to throw two innings against hitters in Arizona. Gonsolin will be the Dodgers’ fifth starter when he returns, which is why they won’t activate him until he’s able to pitch four or five innings. That buildup will likely take a few weeks.