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Dodgers notes: Alex Verdugo late, Austin Barnes starts, Brandon McCarthy to return

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MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Some notes heading into Saturday morning’s middle game of the series between the Dodgers and Nationals in Washington D.C., including a tardy Alex Verdugo, and another start behind the plate for Austin Barnes.

Verdugo showed up late to Nationals Park on Friday, after the team already had its daily hitters meeting. Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register explained in detail:

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he didn’t learn of Verdugo’s tardiness until he was heading out to the field for the workout but would “address it” with him. General Manager Farhan Zaidi is on this trip with the team and said the same thing.

“I haven’t spoken to him yet so I don’t know his explanation,” Zaidi said. “But I plan to speak with him.”

Somebody had already spoken to Verdugo. Almost immediately after his late arrival, the young outfielder was approached by veteran left-hander Rich Hill, who dressed down the September call-up in front of his locker.

“That’s the way it should be,” Roberts said of the veteran’s initiative.

Roberts eventually did speak with Verdugo.

Verdugo is 3-for-16 (.188) with a home run and two walks in nine games since getting called up on Sept. 1. He started his first four major league games, all in San Diego against the Padres, but has appeared in just five of the last 11 games, all in reserve.

Starting lineups

Pos Dodgers Pos Nationals
Pos Dodgers Pos Nationals
2B Utley (L) SS Turner
SS Seager (L) LF Kendrick
3B Turner 2B Murphy (L)
1B Bellinger (L) 1B ZImmerman
RF Puig 3B Rendon
LF Granderson (L) RF Werth
C Barnes CF Taylor
CF Pederson (L) C Severino
P Hill (L) P Cole
Time: 10:05 a.m. PT TV: Fox

He last played on Monday in San Francisco.

Austin Barnes gets the start at catcher on Saturday, the fourth start in eight games for Barnes, including his third start in the Dodgers’ last seven games against right-handed pitching.

Barnes is likely to get another start on Sunday against another right-hander in Stephen Strasburg, Roberts told reporters on Saturday.

Yasmani Grandal is 1-for-34 with six walks and a home run in September.

Joc Pederson starts in center field, making his fifth start in 11 games since returning from Oklahoma City, giving Chris Taylor a day off. Pederson is 1-for-11 with three walks and three strikeouts since rejoining the club. It’s the first start for Pederson since last Saturday.

Curtis Granderson starts in left field. He and Chase Utley — starting at second base and leading off on Saturday — are the only active Dodgers to have faced Nationals starter A.J. Cole. Granderson was 1-for-4 with a triple and a walk against Cole last season, and Utley is 0-for-2 against the right-hander with two strikeouts. Utley faced Cole in 2015 while with the Phillies.

Brandon McCarthy, who made another rehab start on Friday night for Double-A Tulsa, will pitch again in the majors this year, as Roberts hinted at last weekend.

McCarthy is on the 60-day disabled list, and eligible to be activated any time after Monday. He last pitched for the Dodgers on July 20. The club will have to make a corresponding transaction to make room on the 40-man roster, which means either calling up Julio Urias and placing him on the 60-day disabled list or removing someone currently on the active roster, which has 39 players at the moment.

The Dodgers return home next Friday to play the Giants at Dodger Stadium. In the interim, there is a four-game series in Philadelphia, and the starting rotation is set for that series: