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Yoshi Tsutsugo’s minor league rehab assignment ‘more of a longer-term play’

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Tsutsugo expected to stay with Triple-A Oklahoma City for two more weeks while on injured list

St Louis Cardinals v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Yoshi Tsutsugo singled, walked, scored, and drove in a run on Tuesday for Triple-A Oklahoma City, his sixth game on a minor league rehab assignment while on the injured list with a strained right calf. His rehab assignment is expected to last quite a while longer.

“It’s more of a longer-term play,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said on Tuesday. “Just to kind of make sure he’s back, with a calf that’s healthy. And it also allows for him to take some at-bats, and use this time to get healthy, and kind of work on his stroke.”

It’s been a grind for the lefty-hitting Tsutsugo since coming over to the United States on a two-year deal with the Rays before the 2020 season. After averaging 31 home runs from 2014-19 with Yokohama in Japan, Tsutsugo has hit just .181/.291/.315 with eight home runs in 303 major league plate appearances.

After the Rays designated him for assignment, the Dodgers acquired the 29-year-old for a player to be named later or cash on May 15. Since joining Los Angeles, Tsutsugo was just 3-for-25 (.120) with 12 strikeouts, six walks, and no extra-base hits. He started six of his first 11 games with the Dodgers, but once Cody Bellinger and Zach McKinstry were activated from the injured list on May 29, playing time for Tsutsugo was sparse, including no starts.

That’s why the Dodgers are going to ride out Tsutsugo’s rehab assignment, letting him get regular playing time in Oklahoma City while the team figures out if he’ll even have a role in the majors. Minor league rehab assignments for position players can last up to 20 days, and Tsutsugo started his on June 17.

Come July 7, the day after Tsutsugo’s 20 days are up, the Dodgers will have a decision to make.

Player of the day

June has been a rough month for Michael Busch, one of the Dodgers’ best hitting prospects. But on Tuesday night, the Double-A Tulsa second baseman broke a tie with an RBI double in the eighth inning, giving the Drillers a homestand-opening win.

Busch’s double, off the base of the wall in center field, was his first extra-base hit of the month. It came against Springfield southpaw Evan Sisk, with the left-handed Busch just 4-for-22 (.182) against lefties entering Tuesday.

Five of the six main national prospect lists ranked Busch in the top-100 in baseball entering the season, and the only one that didn’t have him that high (MLB Pipeline) included him among the prospects just on the outside of the top-100, looking in.

Busch, who also walked and scored earlier on Tuesday, is hitting .234/.371/.423 in Double-A, though in June, even with Tuesday’s double he’s just 9-for-49 (.184/.310/.204) with nine walks and 21 strikeouts. Busch has a 30.5-percent strikeout rate on the season, and 36.2 percent in June.

Triple-A Oklahoma City

Tim Federowicz homered and drove in four runs in a win over the Round Rock Express (Rangers). The veteran catcher entered Tuesday just 6-for-47 (.128) on the season — one interrupted by Federowicz on Team USA as they qualified for the Olympics — but on Tuesday he was 3-for-4 with a walk.

Luke Raley and Matt Davidson also homered for OKC. Brusdar Graterol pitched a scoreless sixth inning.

Old friend Dennis Santana, traded to the Rangers on Thursday, walked one and struck out three in the seventh in his Round Rock debut.

Double-A Tulsa

Busch’s double provided the winning margin for Tulsa over the Springfield Cardinals. It followed a wild seventh inning in which Springfield scored three against pitcher Zach Willeman, only to see the Drillers rally for three in the bottom of the frame, including bases-loaded walks by Carlos Rincon and Devin Mann.

Aaron Ochsenbein, the Dodgers’ sixth-round pick in 2019 out of Eastern Kentucky, retired all seven batters he faced in relief, including five strikeouts.

High-A Great Lakes

Left fielder Ryan Ward and catcher Carson Taylor each homered and had four hits in the Loons’ rout of the Lake County Captains (Cleveland). Designated hitter Joe Vranesh had three hits, including two doubles, and drove in four.

Jose Martinez struck out four in four innings, allowing only one unearned run. Andy Pages homered again, his league-leading 13th of the season.

Low-A Rancho Cucamonga

Robbie Peto and Julian Smith combined to allow three home runs and five runs in four innings in the Quakes loss to the San Jose Giants.

Third baseman Brandon Lewis homered and drove in two. Catcher Diego Cartaya had two hits and drove in a run.

On Monday’s off day, second baseman/outfielder Sam McWilliams was named Low-A West player of the week after hitting .391/.462/.783 (9-for-23) with two home runs, three doubles, six runs scores, seven runs batted in, and a stolen base in five games against Visalia. McWilliams is the third Quakes player to win the weekly honor this season, along with first baseman Sauryn Lao (May 17-23) and pitcher Braydon Fisher (May 31-June 6).

Transactions

Triple-A: Zach Reks was optioned to Oklahoma City.

Double-A: Pitcher Zach Willeman was activated from the injured list. Catcher Juan Zabala was transferred to the developmental list.

High-A: Infielder Kenny Betancourt was activated from Tulsa’s injured list and sent to Great Lakes.

Tuesday scores

Wednesday schedule

  • 4:05 p.m. PT: Great Lakes (Bobby Miller) vs. Lake County (Xzavion Curry)
  • 5:05 p.m.: Tulsa (Ryan Pepiot) vs. Springfield (Tyler Pike)
  • 6:30 p.m.: Rancho Cucamonga (Jimmy Lewis) at San Jose (Wil Jensen)

Oklahoma City is off on Wednesdays.