Posted on May 5, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
So it goes for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Just when they get one player back from their over-crowded DL, they add another player to the injured list. On Friday, the Dodgers activated center fielder Joc Pederson following a minor groin injury, only to send first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the 10-day DL because of elbow soreness.
Gonzalez admitted earlier this week that he should have started the season on the DL. He was sidelined with an elbow injury early in spring training but was able to work his way back in time to participate in the World Baseball Classic and begin the season with the Dodgers. However, his performance has clearly been hindered by injury early in the year. In 29 games, Gonzalez is hitting just .255 and is yet to hit a home run.
To make matters worse, Gonzalez re-aggravated a previous injury to his back a couple weeks ago. That pain in his back and the continued soreness in his elbow has sent Gonzalez to the DL for the first time in his big league career, spanning 14 seasons.
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“When you play all those years and you never go on the DL, you don’t feel great all the time,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said earlier this week. “That’s why I just have so much respect for him. Because sometimes, for players, to go on the DL is the easy way out. And he literally has never done that.”
The silver lining for the Dodgers is that they a replacement at first base already lined up in top prospect Cody Bellinger. The 21-year old Bellinger made his big league debut 10 days ago and has mostly been playing left field with Pederson, Franklin Gutierrez, and Andre Ethier all on the DL. Bellinger has made an immediate impact, hitting .303 with a .937 OPS through the first nine games of his big league career.
There were questions about what the Dodgers would do with Bellinger with Gutierrez recently returning from the DL and Pederson now back as well. It was initially believed that Bellinger would be sent back to the minors when both Gutierrez and Pederson returned, but with Gonzalez going to the DL, the Dodgers have a good excuse to keep him, as it would have been difficult to option him back to the minors after the way he’s hit the past week and a half.
Pederson, meanwhile, should resume his duties as the team’s everyday center fielder. He got off to a slow start this year, hitting .220 with just one home run before going to the DL. However, the Dodgers believe he’ll come around and supply some of the power they haven’t received from Gonzalez this year. Gutierrez and Andrew Toles figure to share time in left field now that Bellinger is moving to first base. Enrique Hernandez is also an option at all three outfield spots after he acted as the primary fill-in for Pederson in center field.
With Gonzalez essentially replacing Pederson on the DL, the Dodgers still have 10 players on the injured list, which is part of the season Los Angeles entered play Friday just one game over .500 and three games out of first place. However, with the chance to get Gonzalez healthy while keeping Bellinger in the lineup for the time being, exchanging Gonzalez for Pederson isn’t a bad deal for the Dodgers, even if their injured list remains just as crowded.