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Why the Dodgers called up Zach McKinstry and not Gavin Lux

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“We don’t feel he’s ready right now, and we let Gavin know that,” Dave Roberts said.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers-Workouts Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dodgers needed a position player to provide coverage for their various nagging injuries, on Wednesday they first turned to Zach McKinstry rather than preseason National League Rookie of the Year favorite Gavin Lux, for a couple of reasons.

This isn’t a starting role, and it sure sounds like a temporary one for McKinstry, especially with active rosters shrinking from 30 to 28 players on Thursday.

“To potentially bring Gavin up for a day doesn’t make any sense at all,” manager Dave Roberts said on a conference call Wednesday. “I also told Gavin that if there’s a situation like that with the taxi or something, he probably won’t be the guy is he won’t be here until he is the guy potentially playing every day.”

Dodgers-Padres lineups

Pos Dodgers Pos Padres
Pos Dodgers Pos Padres
DH Pollock SS Tatis
2B Muncy (L) CF Grisham (L)
3B Turner LF Pham
CF Bellinger (L) 3B Machado
DH Seager (L) 1B Cronenworth (L)
LF Taylor RF Myers
LF Pederson (L) DH Garcia (L)
C Smith C Hedges
2B Hernández 2B Profar (S)
Ross Stripling vs. Garrett Richards on the mound

McKinstry was on the taxi squad with the Dodgers for the entirety of their nine-game road trip, which ends with Wednesday’s game in San Diego. Taxi squads will reportedly increase from three to five players going forward, along with keeping 28-player rosters for the remainder of the season beginning Thursday.

A byproduct of Lux beginning the season in the minors is that he won’t accrue enough for a full season of service time by the end of 2020, which would potentially delay his free agency by a year, at least under the current collective bargaining agreement, which expires after the 2021 season. Lux needed 143 days accrued in the normal season to get to 172 days, the minimum required for a full year of service time. Pro-rated for the truncated 60-game season, he would need 53 days in 2020, which is impossible unless he is called up Thursday and remains on the roster for the remainder of the season. So that ship has sailed.

“There is no conspiracy theory with holding Gavin Lux down for any other reason that aside from we don’t feel he’s ready right now,” Roberts said, “and we let Gavin know that, so that should be put to bed.”

The Dodgers were pretty consistent in this regard with Lux, who reported to summer camp at Dodger Stadium on July 10 after missing the first seven workouts. He didn’t hit very well during intrasquad and exhibition games, which was attributed to not being right mechanically.

For now, the plan is to keep Lux at the alternate training site at USC until a chance at regular playing time opens up.

“He’s still getting there at USC. He’s getting it back daily. It’s coming. I see video every single day. Still not there yet, but it’s getting considerably better,” Roberts said. “He’s handling everything like a professional.”

Through 12 games, Dodgers second baseman — Kiké Hernández started there seven times, Max Muncy three times, and Chris Taylor twice — are hitting .234/.308/.298. Hernández starts at second base in the series finale in San Diego.

Wait for Mookie continues

Mookie Betts is out of the lineup for a third straight day with a sore middle finger, and likely won’t be available to bat on Wednesday. Whether he returns to the lineup on Friday against San Francisco remains to be seen.

“Today from what I understand he’s going through his regular routine, so that’s a positive thing. As far as swinging the bat, I don’t know how much or if he’s gonna take batting practice or not,” Roberts said. “But with the day off tomorrow, the hope is to get him back in there. But if it doesn’t happen, then we’ll adjust.”

Betts didn’t play Monday at all but did play two innings defensively in right field on Tuesday. Any sort of injured list stint would make him unavailable until August 15, but that isn’t on the Dodgers’ radar at the moment.

“I just don’t think we’re there yet with Mookie,” Roberts said.

Game info

Time: 6:10 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA