LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers pride themselves on having plenty of quality depth on the 40-man roster to help them withstand the ups and downs of a 162-game season. That depth is being put to the test early and often this season.
Zach McKinstry became the latest Dodgers player to land on the injured list, as the club placed the utility man on the 10-day IL with a right oblique strain. McKinstry was scratched from the lineup on Thursday after feeling some discomfort during his first round of batting practice.
Losing McKinstry is another blow for the Dodgers, as the 25-year-old has been one of the standouts this season and has been one of the best rookie performers in the National League. Outfielder DJ Peters was recalled from the alternate training site to take McKinstry’s spot on the active roster.
“We have to look, not only at the short term, but the long term,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “When you’re talking about swinging the bat, you’re talking about muscles. You don’t want a week or two thing to turn into a four-week thing.”
McKinstry was the last position player to make the team out of Spring Training, but he quickly became an integral part of the roster. His ability to play both corner outfield spots and second base helped the Dodgers find a quality replacement for Kiké Hernández, who occupied one of the team’s utility man roles last season.
As valuable as McKinstry’s defense has been, his ability to perform well at the plate helped the Dodgers give Mookie Betts extra days off as he recovered from a back injury earlier this season. McKinstry is hitting .296 with three homers and 14 RBIs in 17 games this season. In his absence, the Dodgers will lean on Sheldon Neuse, who hit his first big league homer on Thursday.
McKinstry isn’t the only Dodgers player dealing with an injury. Chris Taylor also was scratched from the lineup on Thursday with a back injury and is considered day to day. The utility player took ground balls and swung the bat on Friday, but Roberts said he’ll look to stay away from him for another game.
“That’s why you prepare for things like this with depth,” Roberts said. “It gives other guys a runway. Those guys will be fine, and we’ll come out of this OK.”
By activating Peters, the Dodgers added a much-needed right-handed bat to their bench. Peters is the Dodgers’ No. 21 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, but Los Angeles loves his power potential. He hit 23 home runs in the Minors in 2019.
Peters, whose first appearance with the Dodgers will be his Major League debut, also gives the Dodgers another outfielder. The 25-year-old can play all three outfield spots, particularly center field. With the left-hander Blake Snell on the mound on Saturday, it would not be a surprise to see Peters in the Dodgers’ lineup. L.A. is hitting .204 against southpaws this season.