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Dodgers

Rookie outfielder Alex Verdugo has setback in timeline for return to the Dodgers

Dodgers’ Alex Verdugo bats during the ninth inning against the San Diego Padres on Aug. 4 at Dodger Stadium.
Dodgers’ Alex Verdugo bats during the ninth inning against the San Diego Padres on Aug. 4 at Dodger Stadium.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Dodgers expected having Alex Verdugo spend the week with the Ogden Raptors, the organization’s Class-A short-season affiliate, as a final tuneup before returning to the club next week against the Baltimore Orioles. A setback has altered those plans and stalled Verdugo’s rehab.

Verdugo aggravated a nagging back injury in his first, and only, game with Ogden on Monday. He didn’t play Tuesday and won’t play for Ogden again. Instead, the rookie outfielder will travel to Arizona to continue working at the team’s spring-training facility.

“There’s still time as far as getting ready to finish out the season,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “But to see him playing in a game in Baltimore is not going to happen.”

Verdugo, 23, was placed on the injured list Aug. 6 with a right oblique strain, but Roberts said the oblique is no longer the problem. It’s a back issue, which Roberts said first surfaced in late May. Verdugo hasn’t appeared in a game for the Dodgers since Aug. 4.

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Being ruled out of the Dodgers’ upcoming series against the Orioles means the earliest he will return is Sept. 13 against the New York Mets. The Dodgers would have 17 regular-season games remaining then. Roberts insisted he isn’t worried about Verdugo running out of time to prepare for the postseason.

Verdugo is batting .294 with 12 home runs and an .817 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 106 games.

The Dodgers want Cody Bellinger to play center field in the playoffs, so A.J. Pollock slides to left field. Alex Verdugo will be in the mix when he’s healthy.

“Right now, there’s no concern,” Roberts said. “I think with Alex, with his mechanics, his bat to ball, I don’t think it’ll take him a whole lot of at-bats. It’s also the thought of being able to stand in the outfield for a couple of hours, a few hours, to kind of build that up. But as far as time left on the calendar, we still have plenty of it.”

Rich Hill update

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Rich Hill said he will throw a simulated game Friday in what the Dodgers expect will be the last step before coming off the injured list next week. It will be the first time Hill faces hitters since going on the injured list in June with a forearm strain. The 39-year-old left-hander would return to log two or three innings in his first outing and ramp up his workload as he strives to build enough stamina to claim the fourth spot in the Dodgers’ playoff rotation.

Max Muncy’s recovery

Roberts said Max Muncy was expected to take his first swings Wednesday since fracturing his right wrist last week. Roberts added the infielder has taken grounders. He also could return next week.

“Looked good moving around and the soreness is starting to continue to dissipate,” Roberts said. “The expectation is he takes some swings today and just starts to ramp it up more in the days coming.”

Short hops

Dustin May faced hitters at Dodger Stadium for the first time since taking a line drive off his head Sunday. Roberts said the club hasn’t decided when he will pitch in a game. … The Dodgers’ pitching probables for the three-game weekend series against the San Francisco Giants remains incomplete. Clayton Kershaw will start Friday, Walker Buehler will pitch the finale Sunday and Roberts said Saturday’s starter will depend on who is used out of the bullpen Wednesday. He noted Ross Stripling and Tony Gonsolin, both available as relievers Wednesday, are the top candidates to make the start.


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