LOS ANGELES – The Dodgers have three former MVPs on the active roster: Clayton Kershaw, Mookie Betts and Albert Pujols. They will get their fourth comeback on Saturday against the Giants.
After missing nearly two months with a fractured left fibula, star outfielder Cody Bellinger will return to the Dodgers’ starting lineup on Saturday and start at center field, manager Dave Roberts said on Friday. Bellinger is also expected to be part of the roster on Sunday.
The 2019 National League MVP has played a handful of games for the Oklahoma City Triple-A after a lengthy rehabilitation process at Camelback Ranch in Arizona. In his five Triple-A games, Bellinger has hit two home runs. He played the whole game on Thursday.
In five games with the Dodgers before being sidelined, Bellinger posted a .211 / .286 / .368 slash line.
With Bellinger back in the lineup, the Dodgers will have yet another major threat in the middle of the order. Bellinger will get most of his playing time in the middle of the field once he’s activated, but there’s a chance he can play on first base every now and then as the Dodgers help him pass a regular playing time.
“I would like to say that it will be exclusively in the middle of the field,” Roberts said earlier this week. “But if it makes sense to have him there at first base to basically handle the workload that night to put his bat in the lineup, it will definitely be entertaining. ”
Max Muncy, who started the season as the team’s daily first baseman, plays more at second base since the club acquired Pujols, and he could move up to second to make room for Bellinger at the start. Chris Taylor replaced Bellinger in the center field and will continue to have playing time there, as well as in both corners of the outfield and in the middle infield. To activate Bellinger, the Dodgers will need to step up on the 26-man roster.
Bellinger’s return will be a big addition for the Dodgers, but he’s not the only one returning this weekend. Utility player Zach McKinstry will travel to Los Angeles with Bellinger, and the Dodgers could activate him on Saturday or Sunday.
Prior to his right oblique strain, McKinstry was one of the hottest hitters for the Dodgers, posting an .883 OPS in 17 games. He would give the Dodgers even more versatility, as he’s able to play both outside corner points, second base and third base.
The Dodgers have one of the Majors’ best records, and after a few weeks full of injuries, the defending World Series champions are approaching their full strength.
“Obviously it’s not ideal to lose some really good players, but everyone is going through it,” said Roberts. “Getting them back is a bit like acquiring or trading free agents, but just getting them back into the active list makes us much better.”