The Dodgers made a roster move before Wednesday’s series finale against the Padres in San Diego, calling up utility man Zach McKinstry and optioning pitcher Victor Gonzalez to the club’s alternate training site at USC.
The only question is how long McKinstry will stay.
Active rosters will shrink from 30 to 28 players on Thursday, and Gonzalez was almost certainly one of the Dodgers who was going to get optioned. It just happened a day earlier.
McKinstry gives the Dodgers a versatile player who started games last year at shortstop, second base, third base, left field, and center field in the minors. At the very least they could use some depth help at multiple positions at least for the final game of the road trip.
Mookie Betts didn’t start the last two games with a sore middle finger, and hasn’t batted in a game since Sunday. Edwin Rios fouled a ball off his foot on Tuesday night, and left the game an inning later. X-rays were negative but he had to have blood drained from his toenail.
Corey Seager had calf tightness over the weekend, but left quad soreness limited him to designated hitter in the first two games in San Diego. Then he fouled a ball off his foot on Tuesday, though he remained in the game.
Whether McKinstry is up for a single game or longer, he was a breakout star of spring training and summer camp. The 33rd-round pick from 2016 opened eyes at the plate and in the field.
“I had a pitcher reach out to me and say he enjoyed throwing against me, competing against me, and having me behind him when he’s throwing. He thinks I have a pretty good future ahead of me,” McKinstry said in the last week of camp. “I think I showed some higher-up players that I can compete at the next level.”
McKinstry was one of the Dodgers’ last cuts in finalizing their Opening Day roster.
“I think Zach has the skillset and the mindset to be a big league ballplayer right now,” manager Dave Roberts the week before the season. “For the Dodgers, as they say, he’s an injury away. He’s right there.”
Both Gonzalez and McKinstry joined the Dodgers on their road trip as members of the taxi squad, along with catcher Rocky Gale. Gonzalez was recalled Thursday in Arizona, and made his major league debut on Friday, pitching one-plus inning, allowing a run.