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Max Muncy is back, activated off the injured list after missing 9 games

Zach Reks optioned to Triple-A

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As expected, Max Muncy was activated from the injured list on Tuesday, the first game he was eligible to return from a 10-day injured list stint for right oblique tightness.

The injury happened in the first inning on June 11 against the Rangers at Dodger Stadium. Muncy felt tightness in his right side on a swing at the first pitch of the at-bat. Four pitches later, he homered, but was removed at the top of the second inning.

Muncy has been the Dodgers’ best hitter this season, hitting .264/.418/.528 with a team-leading 14 home runs. Muncy leads the National League in on-base percentage and walks (46), and is tied for fourth with a 164 wRC+. As of Monday’s ballot update from MLB, Muncy leads all National League first baseman in All-Star votes. If that holds through the second round of voting, Muncy could make his second All-Star team.

To date, only two Dodgers first basemen have started an All-Star Game — Gil Hodges in 1951, and Steve Garvey in seven straight years from 1974-80.

Dodgers-Padres lineups

Pos Dodgers Pos Padres
Pos Dodgers Pos Padres
CF Betts LF Pham
SS Taylor SS Tatis Jr.
3B Turner 2B Cronenworth (L)
1B Pujols 3B Machado
C Smith RF Myers
2B Muncy (L) 1B Hosmer (L)
LF Pollock CF Grisham (L)
RF Souza C Rivas
P Kershaw (L) P Snell (L)

“It’s just the presence in the lineup,” manager Dave Roberts said Monday. “Getting an All-Star player back certainly makes us a lot better.”

Muncy is playing second base on Tuesday, batting sixth against the Padres. He shifts over for his 16th start at the position this season because, with left-hander Blake Snell on the mound for San Diego, Albert Pujols gets the start at first base. The last time Muncy batted sixth was April 24, also at Petco Park and also facing Snell.

Since joining the Dodgers on May 17, Pujols has hit lefties to the tune of .381/.409/.786 with five home runs in 44 plate appearances. Tuesday is the 10th left-handed starter the Dodgers have faced since May 17, and the 10th time Pujols has started. Against right-handers, Pujols has started seven times in 23 games.

Muncy is expected to start at first base in the series finale on Wednesday, when Cody Bellinger will be activated from his stint on the injured list with left hamstring tightness.

Both Muncy and Bellinger got some time in at Camelback Ranch when the Dodgers were in Phoenix to play the Diamondbacks, then took at-bats against Scott Alexander, who is also on the injured list, before Monday’s game at Petco Park.

Muncy’s arrival meant the departure of Zach Reks, who was called up Monday to make his major league debut. Reks started in left field and played into the fifth inning before he was removed in a double switch. He struck out swinging and lined out to the left center field gap against Yu Darvish. Reks was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

In other roster news, Nate Jones — who was designated for assignment last Wednesday — cleared waivers over the weekend and was sent outright to Triple-A. But as someone with over five years of major league service time, Jones had the right to refuse a minor league assignment, and did so, becoming a free agent.