Fresh off of a disappointing road trip that saw the Dodgers lose back-to-back games against the first-place Pirates, some encouraging news surfaced as catcher Will Smith will be taking at-bats in a simulated game before Friday’s series opener against the Cardinals.
Smith was off to a red-hot start offensively (.333 average, 12 RBI, 1.058 OPS in 11 games) before a concussion forced Smith to be placed on the injured list. Through his absence the Dodgers have had to rely on the two Austins, Barnes and Wynns, to fill in for their star backstop. Both Barnes and Wynns have struggled mightily since Smith’s injury, as Barnes has just a .336 OPS over his past seven games, while Wynns has accumulated just a .445 OPS in 11 at bats over the road trip, with them combining for just three runs batted in.
While in Pittsburgh, Smith was able to catch a bullpen session from Dustin May, who will be starting the first game between the Cardinals tonight, and was able to take live batting practice on Wednesday along with Miguel Rojas. Now the plan is for Smith to make his return to the lineup tomorrow, but his reps behind the dish will come once he feels comfortable manning the position, as Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register notes:
“‘I definitely wanna make sure before I catch again that my brain can take another foul tip because that’s the nature of being a catcher,’ he said. ‘That’s gonna happen. So it just kind of is that unknown really. You don’t know exactly when you’re totally good. That’s why I’ve been doing all this rehab stuff. Putting my body in the right position. If one of those happen, I’ll be alright.’”
The addition of Smith, who is one of the game’s best catchers, back at the number three slot in the lineup will help a lackluster Dodgers offense that mustered just three runs on nine hits over the past two games against Pittsburgh.
- After a hot start reminiscent of his previous two campaigns, Julio Urias has struggled mightily over his past three starts, inflating his season ERA to 4.41. Juan Toribio at MLB.com provides some takeaways from the Dodgers recent road trip, including how Urias has felt about his past three starts.
- Jack Harris at the Los Angeles Times wrote about the growing number of Dodgers on the paternity list this season. Said Dave Roberts, laughing: “This is such an outlier of a season. ... I guess that’s what you get with a young team.”
- Payton Martin makes his third professional start on Saturday for Low-A Rancho Cucamonga. The 17th-round draft pick out of high school last season has impressed in his first three games (two starts), allowing a run in 8⅔ innings. Martin, who is three weeks shy of his 19th birthday, spoke with Ryan Falla at Dodgers 2080 about his pitch mix, expectations, and more.