The story of Cody Bellinger’s 2021 season cannot be told without injuries, and there’s a new one to add to the pile. Bellinger is out of the Dodgers lineup on Saturday because of residual soreness from a non-displaced fracture in his left ribs.
Bellinger suffered the injury in a collision on Monday with Gavin Lux, playing his sixth professional game in the outfield at the time.
“It’s nothing that’s going to hurt worse by playing. It’s kind of per his tolerance. Today it was kind of sore,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Just to give it a day, let it calm down. He’s very, very confident that he’ll be in there tomorrow.”
Roberts said the injury affects Bellinger more while throwing than hitting — but added, “I’m sure there might be something with the swinging, too. — and isn’t expected to keep him from playing going forward. Whether Bellinger should be starting at all should be in question, given his performance.
Bellinger is hitting .159/.237/.291 in 89 games, coming off shoulder surgery in a year in which he missed nearly eight weeks with a fractured left fibula and also was sidelined by a hamstring injury. Among the 237 major league batters with at least 300 plate appearances in 2021, Bellinger ranks 237th in batting average, 236th in on-base percentage, 235th in slugging percentage, and 236th in wRC+ (46).
“For Cody, individually, it’s been a tough season. It’s been a grind because of all the things that have come up for him,” Roberts said. “I applaud him for continuing to work to help us win ballgames and win a championship. The game’s not easy, and the season is unpredictable, so this is where we’re at.”
Bellinger also plays excellent defense in center field, which is keeping him in the lineup, starting 11 of the first 15 games in September despite a 3-for-41 (.073/.174/.122) stretch.
AJ Pollock has been out with a right hamstring strain, but is expected back by next weekend. Chris Taylor missed about a week with a neck injury, but starts in center on Saturday. When those two are back and fully healthy, the Dodgers on most days could and should field a lineup that doesn’t include Bellinger.