Dodgers committed to trying Pederson at 1st

June 19th, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers have worked out left fielder at first base the past three years without putting him in a game there. He was taking grounders at first again Tuesday, but this time it might be for real.

“This year, obviously, we’re ramping it up,” said manager Dave Roberts, who oversaw the workout. “I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but we’re going to see him play first base.”

There are numerous reasons why management is looking for additional ways to keep Pederson’s power bat in the lineup. Injured outfielder A.J. Pollock is expected back soon after the All-Star break. Rookie outfielder Alex Verdugo has become too valuable to send back to the bench. Cody Bellinger no longer plays first base to protect his shoulder from dives. Max Muncy is busy enough at second base and spelling Justin Turner at third.

Roberts said he hopes to ease Pederson into game action in a one-sided contest for a “soft landing.”

“Just to have that option makes us a better club,” said Roberts. “He has a lot of intangibles to play the position -- the instincts, the hands, a repeatable arm stroke. You’ve just got to understand the speed of the game, from the outfield to the infield, it’s a lot faster in the infield and you can’t replicate that much.”

Roberts said this has been a plan since Verdugo played so well as Pollock’s outfield replacement.

“[Joc] is actually more excited about playing first base than I’ve seen him excited about anything, outside of hitting a homer,” Roberts said.

• Roberts didn’t say who, but he confirmed a spot starter will be inserted into the rotation “in the next three or four days,” before Kenta Maeda’s next start to give his bruised right wrist an extra day to heal.

The most likely candidate would be Julio Urias and the most likely day is Thursday, even though Walker Buehler is the announced probable starter for the series finale against the Giants. Urias pitched only one inning Monday night, the equivalent of a bullpen session three days before a start.

Maeda took a comebacker off the wrist, which he said was sore to the touch but didn’t bother him pitching. X-rays were negative.

• Roberts said Scott Alexander (sore forearm) will go out for a Minor League rehab assignment next week. Pollock continues to ramp up his recovery and will work out at Camelback Ranch-Glendale before going out on a rehab assignment.