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Chris Taylor out of Dodgers lineup again, Cody Bellinger progressing slowly

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Taylor is available off the bench Friday, and might start Saturday vs. D-backs

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

For the ninth time in the last 11 games, Chris Taylor is not in the Dodgers starting lineup, still dealing with a pinched nerve in his neck.

Taylor’s two starts came last weekend in Cincinnati, but he was limited to just one of the three games in Denver, grounding out as a pinch-hitter in the 10th inning against the Rockies on Thursday afternoon. Manager Dave Roberts said Taylor will be available off the bench on Friday night against the Diamondbacks, and the tentative plan is for Taylor to start in center field on Saturday.

“If we have to amend that plan, we can do so, but that’s kind of where we’re at right now,” Roberts said. “Going forward, just to keep communication with CT, and manage him the best we can.”

With Taylor out, Gavin Lux starts in center for a second straight day, bringing his total career professional games in center field to three, all this month. Lux singled twice on Thursday in Colorado, his sixth multi-hit game in 11 contests since getting recalled from Triple-A. He’s 16 for 36 during that span, hitting .444/.524/.639.

Dodgers/D-backs lineups

Pos Dodgers Pos D-backs
Pos Dodgers Pos D-backs
RF Betts SS Rojas (L)
SS Seager (L) 2B Marte (S)
2B Turner CF Varsho (L)
1B Muncy (L) RF Calhoun (L)
C Smith LF Peralta (L)
3B Turner 1B Smith (L)
LF Pollock C Kelly
CF Lux (L) 3B VanMeter (L)
P Gonsolin P Castellanos

Lux is hitting eighth on Friday, staying near the bottom of the order, having hit seventh or eighth in every game since his return. AJ Pollock, who doubled twice on Thursday, gets the start in left field for a second straight day, hitting seventh. Pollock has 19 hits in 38 at-bats against the D-backs in 2021.

Just ahead of those two is third baseman Justin Turner, hitting sixth for the first time since May 22, 2015. Before this season, Turner hadn’t hit lower than fourth in the Dodgers lineup since 2015. He’s started 10 times in the No. 5 spot in the order this season, and tonight he’s hitting sixth. Turner is hitting .227/.268/.413 in September.

“I just wanted to give a different look. Obviously he’s been grinding, hasn’t been getting the results,” Roberts said. “I think you have to give Will [Smith, hitting fifth on Friday] credit. He’s been consistent all year, and I’ve moved him around. I feel confident where he’s at.

“It just continues to make a really good lineup really good. There are a lot of guys that are interchangeable.”

Bellinger’s rehab slows

Cody Bellinger has been out since Saturday with a fractured left rib. He’s eligible to return from the injured list as early as Tuesday, but that seems in doubt.

“Cody’s not coming along great,” Roberts said Friday morning in an interview with Alanna Rizzo on MLB Network. “He’s not moving really well.”

Asked Friday afternoon to clarify what that meant, Roberts said Bellinger hasn’t yet swung a bat since getting sidelined, but the plan is for him to take batting practice on the field before Saturday’s game at Chase Field.

“It’s progressing, probably not at the pace we would like. I think progress is a good thing, but I don’t want to box him in to playing on Tuesday,” Roberts said. “When it happens, it happens. It’s just kind of a day-to-day thing.”

Costume party

Roberts was asked about the Dodgers’ team-wide dress-up on Thursday for the final road trip of the year. He praised team assistant athletic director Yosuke “Possum” Nakajima for dressing up as Max Scherzer.

“The Sons of Anarchy got a lot of play with those four pitchers, but there was a sneaky one, Possum,” Roberts said. “He had the black eye from getting a foul ball off the eye, he had the blue contact lens in his right eye, and the Nats jersey. That was a sneaky good one for me.”

Roberts was in a full football uniform, wearing an Houston Oilers No. 34 jersey for Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell.

“He was my father’s favorite player as a Houstonian growing up,” Roberts said. “I got some football pants from the Broncos, and high socks. It was just a little shout out to my father.”