The Dodgers are starting their second straight weekend series against the division rival Padres, and won’t have Cody Bellinger for any of it. Sunday will mark his 17th game missed after getting spiked on his left calf on April 5 in Oakland.
After such a thrilling first series in San Diego, anticipation runs high for the rematch in Los Angeles. But adding insult to injury is that Bellinger can’t even watch the games from the dugout. He said Thursday he caught the first few innings of last Friday’s game at Petco Park, but had to leave the dugout because of COVID-19 health and safety protocols that only allow for active players who are likely to play to be in the dugout.
“It sucks man,” Bellinger said. “It was a fun atmosphere in San Diego. I wanted to see a game under the lights again. I miss it a lot. I can’t wait to get back playing again.”
Neither Bellinger nor manager Dave Roberts wants to disclose any sort of timetable on when Bellinger might return. Part of that is setting a target date publicly only invites further questioning should the rehab take longer than planned. But also, there are legitimate unknowns as to just how long it will take for Bellinger to heal.
It took two MRI exams for the original diagnosis, because there was so much swelling and inflammation during the first test. Bellinger was originally placed on the injured list on April 9, four days after getting spiked, with a left calf contusion. But within a week, it became clear there was something more.
“I progressed pretty good the first few days, and then when I started to do some activity, there was some sharp pain going on,” Bellinger said. “I’m like, ‘I don’t think this is, you know, just bruising and swelling. I think there’s something else going on.”
A CT scan showed a hairline fracture of the left fibula. The timetable, again, isn’t publicly known, but before Bellinger is activated he will head to Arizona to play games at the alternate site, the kind of games that can be manipulated like spring training games on back fields, when a player might bat every inning if needed.
An important first step to that end took place on Thursday, with Bellinger not only throwing during pregame workouts, but also taking pregame batting practice for the first time since the injury, after being limited to work in the cage.
“Now that we understand what the diagnosis is, I think it’s helped him move forward a little bit. I’ve heard that it’s been better each day,” manager Dave Roberts said Thursday. “Certainly, seeing him back in a group is a good thing.”
Bellinger said he can walk without pain, though the injury is still noticeable. Where he’s at now is basically a waiting game.
“Can’t really do much until the bone heals, which takes — I don’t really know, it depends on each person. But once that bone heals up, from what I’ve been told is that you’re ready to go from there,” Bellinger said. “It’s all pain tolerance. I just gotta wait for the bone to heal, then I’m ready to go.”
See you soon?
Gavin Lux, on the injured list with right wrist soreness, took ground balls in the infield and took batting practice on Thursday. He’ll drive to Arizona later this evening, and face live pitching at Camelback Ranch on Friday and Saturday, and possibly Sunday. The earliest he can be activated from the injured list is Monday, and that appears to still be on track.