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Max Muncy returns to Dodgers lineup after mild ankle sprain

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Muncy back at first base, first start since Friday

MLB: JUN 04 Dodgers at Braves Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Max Muncy is back in the Dodgers lineup on Tuesday, his first start in three games after suffering a mild right ankle sprain on Friday in Atlanta.

Muncy bats second and plays first in the series opener against the Pirates, his team-leading 55th start of the season. None of those came in the last two games, after Muncy left Friday’s game after grounding into a double play in the fourth inning. Muncy felt something in his right ankle while jogging back to the dugout, a mild sprain for which X-rays were negative and that led to soreness throughout the weekend.

Dodgers-Pirates lineups

Pos Dodgers Pos Pirates
Pos Dodgers Pos Pirates
RF Betts 2B Frazier (L)
1B Muncy (L) 3B Hayes
3B Turner CF Reynolds (S)
CF Bellinger (L) 1B Moran (L)
C Smith C Stallings
2B Taylor RF Polanco (L)
SS Lux (L) LF Evans
LF Pollock SS Newman
P Buehler P Brubaker

On Saturday, Muncy was held out of the game, but he flied out as a pinch-hitter on Sunday in Atlanta.

“I’m hopeful, not necessarily confident,” manager Dave Roberts said on Sunday when asked if Muncy would be ready to start the series opener in Pittsburgh. “If it’s not Tuesday, it’s Wednesday. If it’s not Wednesday, then we’ll have another conversation.”

Roberts on Tuesday said Muncy would start two of the three games in Pittsburgh, sitting Wednesday with Albert Pujols starting at first base against left-hander Tyler Anderson. Roberts said he didn’t necessarily want Muncy at second base yet, coming off the ankle injury.

Muncy has been the Dodgers best hitter this season, hitting .264/.522/.527 with 13 home runs while leading the majors in walks (45) and leading the National League in on-base percentage. After arguably the best month of his career in May, he’s just 0-for-10 in the early stages of June, though with two walks and no strikeouts, the latter atypical for Muncy.

Austin Barnes is also recovering from an ankle sprain, suffered on Saturday, that affects him more while batting. If healthy, he’ll catch Wednesday if the Dodgers have their druthers.

“If he needs an extra day to catch that Thursday day game, we’ll do that,” Roberts said Tuesday. “My expectation is he’ll play one of the next two.”

This is Walker Buehler’s second career start against the Pirates, and his second at PNC Park. He allowed a run in six innings in a win in Pittsburgh in 2019. Pirates right-hander JT Brubaker has never faced the Dodgers.