Just about everything is going wrong for the Dodgers right now, with Sunday featuring their fifth loss in the last six games. The frustration reached a different level in the series finale, with first baseman Cody Bellinger benched for not hustling.
Bellinger hit a double to lead off the fifth inning to “triples alley” in the deepest part of the park, in right center field. Bellinger remained in the game in the bottom of the inning but in the sixth inning was replaced at first base by Max Muncy in what at the time was a 4-0 game.
“I felt there wasn’t hustle on the ball he hit 421 feet into right center field. He cruised into second base. For me I feel he’s too talented of a player. For a team that’s competing every day and grinding,” manager Dave Roberts said, as seen on SportsNet LA. “You have a right fielder out there who had chills the day prior and throwing up, diving around out there. For Cody not to be on third base — it’s something we talked about before — I wouldn’t be doing him or the team any service by not acting.”
Dave Roberts talks with @alannarizzo about why @Cody_Bellinger was removed from today's game. pic.twitter.com/QfenPNExfB— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) April 30, 2018
Roberts referred to Kiké Hernandez, who was unavailable for both games of Saturday’s doubleheader due to illness, but returned Sunday and made a few stellar defensive plays and drove in one of the Dodgers’ two runs.
Bellinger said he was surprised by the decision.
“It’s the manager’s decision, you can’t say anything against it. I always play the game hard, I kind of took a big swing on the curve ball and ended up on my knee,” Bellinger said, as seen on SportsNet LA. “We’re down four runs, I’m not trying to make an out on the bases going to third. He saw what he saw, it’s all good.”
.@Cody_Bellinger on being removed from the game in the 5th inning. pic.twitter.com/D0B70Obubs— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) April 30, 2018
Roberts said this wasn’t an isolated incident. Bellinger said he was talked to a few weeks ago for not running hard on a fly ball he thought was foul but dropped in, and didn’t get to second base.
“We’ve talked about it before. He plays every day. There are certain expectations in the way we have to play the game,” Roberts said. “When you don’t abide by that, we’ll get somebody in there who will. It’s pretty simple.”
“I’m always hustling to beat out ground balls. I’m always hustling. It just kind of didn’t make sense to me, but I get it as well,” Bellinger said. “He’s trying to prove a point. For me not hustling, kind of being the young guy I have to hustle.”
The road trip hits the middle leg beginning Monday night in Phoenix, with Ross Stripling on the mound against old friend Zack Greinke and the Diamondbacks. The four-game series begins with a 6:40 p.m. PT start that will be televised by SportsNet LA.