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Mookie Betts could begin minor league rehab assignment soon

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Dodgers OF last played on August 7

Pittsburgh Pirates v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

If all goes well, Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts could return to the Dodgers at some point late next week. But he’ll have to play a few minor league rehab games first to see how his right hip responds.

Betts last played on August 7, and is currently on the injured list for the second time since the All-Star break with right hip inflammation. The plan is for baseball activities to ramp up over the next few days at Dodger Stadium, with a rehab assignment starting as soon as Sunday.

“The concern is the ups and downs, the length of a game, seeing how his hip will hold up,” manager Dave Roberts said. “At some point in time next week would be the hope [for Betts’ return], but it’s all contingent on how he’s feeling.”

Betts missed the last 11 games of July on the injured list, and returned without playing any rehab games. His first three games back off the IL were at second base, to reduce wear and tear on his hip. He then played two games in right field before going back on the injured list on August 11.

Last week in Los Angeles while the Dodgers were on the road, Betts met with team doctors and was diagnosed with a bone spur in his hip.

Pitching plans

The Dodgers are deploying a bullpen game on Wednesday night, with left-hander Justin Bruihl nominally starting as the opener for the second time in three days. Mitch White, who pitched four innings in a start last Thursday in Philadelphia, is the bulk pitcher this evening.

We knew another bullpen game was coming this weekend against the Mets, but instead of Saturday, that’s been moved up to Thursday, giving the Dodgers four short starts in a row.

Dodgers-Pirates lineups

Pos Pirates Pos Dodgers
Pos Pirates Pos Dodgers
SS Park (L) LF Pollock
3B Hayes 1B Muncy (L)
CF Reynolds (S) 3B Turner
1B Moran (L) SS Seager (L)
LF Tsutsugo (L) C Smith
2B Difo (S) CF Bellinger (L)
RF Polanco (L) RF McKinney (L)
C Perez (L) 2B Lux (L)
P Brubaker P Bruihl (L)

“Missing Julio and kind of where we’re at, we’ve just got to kind of piece it together,” Roberts said. “We’ll pick up the pieces after tonight’s game.”

Julio Urías threw a simulated game on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium, and the plan for him is to be activated from the injured list at some point during the Padres series. His earliest day eligible to return from his left calf strain is Tuesday, the first game in San Diego.

Moving the next bullpen game up to Thursday gives Walker Buehler and Max Scherzer and extra day of rest before their next starts, on Friday and Saturday, respectively, against the Mets. The cost is heavily using the bullpen, but some reinforcements could be on the way soon.

Victor Gonzalez, who pitched an inning Tuesday night for Low-A Rancho Cucamonga, is expected to be activated from the injured list within the next few days. Then there are the additions that would require corresponding 40-man moves — the activation of Joe Kelly off the injured list, and/or the reportedly imminent signing of Shane Greene.

Whatever the combo, expect several pitchers to be used over the next few days.

Notes

  • Tony Gonsolin will throw a bullpen session on Thursday, though his return from shoulder inflammation will still take a while. Roberts said Gonsolin could potentially need a second bullpen session, then facing hitters multiple times before he might return, with a role to be determined. “It’s still some time, and we’re going to see where we’re at after each marker,” Roberts said.
  • Clayton Kershaw played catch again on Wednesday. Still no real update on his return timetable, other than it can’t be before September 5.
  • Danny Duffy also played catch at Dodger Stadium. Roberts said the left-hander would be used in relief upon his return. Duffy is eligible to return from the 60-day injured list on September 15.
  • With Trea Turner and Chris Taylor getting routine days off, AJ Pollock bats leadoff for the first time in 2021. Batting first is actually Pollock’s most common career position, with 192 career starts. Twenty of those have been with the Dodgers, including three times in 2020.