Thursday, March 5, 2020
Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2020
Another beautiful afternoon in the Cactus League, the Dodgers experienced pitching problems, particularly from Dylan Floro, in their loss to the Oakland Athletics.
After missing two scheduled starts because of a knot in his back, Cody Bellinger returned to the lineup. This spring is much different from previous ones for Bellinger. Thursday, he hit his first home run of the spring.
In 2019, Bellinger came to spring training determined not to be platooned. Also, he was learning to play right field. Enduring many tweaks to his swing and learning how to determine which pitch is a ball or strike, Bellinger had an excellent spring as he prepared for his MVP.
This spring, although the Dodgers moved Bellinger from right field to center field, he does not need to focus on anything. His back problem was new and temporary. He enjoys playing next to Mookie Betts.
No one expects Bellinger to repeat his National League MVP, but the Dodgers hope Bellinger does not lengthen his swing. When his swing becomes too long, his strikeouts increase. Also, Bellinger loses his ability to judge the strike zone. With the addition of Betts, the opposition may pitch to Bellinger instead of throwing around him. Bellinger probably will lead the Dodgers in home runs.
Since Bellinger is a natural athlete, playing center field is no problem for him. He will catch many fly balls that would fall in for singles on other baseball clubs. Using his superior speed to cut off balls in gaps, he will prevent the opposition will not have many extra-base hits against the Dodgers. Not many runners will test Bellinger’s strong arm.
The Dodgers perhaps have the best defensive outfield in baseball. Betts has won several Gold Gloves in right field while he was in Boston. Bellinger should win many Gold Gloves for his defense in the center. Both A.J. Pollock and Joc Pederson, former centerfielders, will roam left field.