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Max Muncy returns to Dodgers lineup after missing 13 games with left elbow inflammation

Zach McKinstry optioned to Triple-A

Los Angeles Dodgers v Washington Nationals Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

The Dodgers activated Max Muncy off the injured list before Thursday’s series finale against the White Sox in Chicago, after the infielder missed 13 games with left elbow inflammation.

Muncy had two hits in 14 at-bats in four games on a minor league with Triple-A Oklahoma City that culminated on Wednesday afternoon. Muncy struck out six times, walked three times, and hit a walk-off home run on Tuesday. He played two games at third base and two games at second base on the rehab assignment.

Dodgers assistant hitting coach Aaron Bates accompanied Muncy on his rehab assignment, and manager Dave Roberts told reporters Wednesday in Chicago that how Muncy’s elbow felt was the main determinant in the timing of his return.

From Jack Harris at the Los Angeles Times:

“Certainly [the results] matter – they don’t matter as much there – but talking to Aaron and talking to Max, they both feel confident. If you layer on getting a few more hits, [that] certainly would be better. But I’m going to trust those two guys feel good about where he’s at and he’s ready to come back.”

Muncy starts at second base on Thursday for the Dodgers, batting cleanup. It’s his 13th start at second base this season, to go along with 18 starts at third base and eight starts at designated hitter.

Dodgers-White Sox lineups

Pos Dodgers Pos White Sox
Pos Dodgers Pos White Sox
RF Betts SS Mendick
1B Freeman (L) 1B Vaughn
SS Turner CF Robert
2B Muncy (L) DH Abreu
DH Smith 3B Burger
3B Turner LF Pollock
CF Bellinger (L) C Grandal (S)
LF Lux (L) RF Engel
C Barnes 2B Harrison
Tyler Anderson vs. Dylan Cease on the mound.

It’s been rough sledding for Muncy this season, after suffering a partial tear in the ulnar collateral ligament of his left elbow last October, which knocked him out for the entire postseason. This year, Muncy is hitting just .150/.327/.263 with three home runs and an 82 wRC+ in 41 games. Though despite missing 13 games, Muncy still ranks fifth in the majors with 34 walks.

With Muncy sidelined, that opened up more opportunities for Edwin Ríos to find playing time. Ríos started 11 out of 12 games, including seven of those starts with Muncy out, before Ríos himself got hurt, suffering a hamstring strain that’s expected to keep him out “a handful of weeks.”

In the last five games, with both Muncy and Ríos on the shelf, the Dodgers’ extra starts — either at designated hitter or third base — went to Eddy Alvarez three times, plus Zach McKinstry and Hanser Alberto once each. That group combined for four hits in 14 at-bats (.286) with a home run, three runs batted in, and two runs scored in those starts.

McKinstry was optioned to Triple-A to make room on the active roster for Muncy. In three major league stints this season, McKinstry has played in four games, going 1-for-5 with a home run and two runs batted in.

This is the second time McKinstry has been optioned since May 2, when this season’s option counter went into effect.