Dodgers outfielder Alex Verdugo’s lingering injury opens door for Edwin Rios
The Dodgers recalled Edwin Rios from triple-A Oklahoma City on Tuesday, a week after the minor league season ended. It was a somewhat surprising move. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had said the club didn’t anticipate including Rios in their September call-ups, and he wasn’t part of the first three waves that ballooned the club’s active roster to 32 players. But those plans changed when outfielder Alex Verdugo suffered a setback on a rehab assignment.
Roberts said Verdugo’s lack of progress from his back injury prompted Rios’ return. A corner infielder and left fielder, Rios gives the Dodgers an extra left-handed bat off the bench in Verdugo’s absence, which could extend long enough to jeopardize his postseason availability.
“I think each day that we don’t get him moving closer to playing, makes it more bleak,” Roberts said. “But we’re still hopeful. So I think the door’s still open but obviously each day that passes gets a little bit tougher.”
Verdugo was on a rehab assignment with short-season Ogden after landing on the injured list Aug. 6 with an oblique strain. He was expected to spend a week with the affiliate before rejoining the Dodgers. The plan was halted after one game.
The rookie initially hurt his back in May and played through nagging pain. Verdugo, 23, is batting .294 with 12 home runs and an .817 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 106 games. Whether he plays again for the Dodgers this season remains unclear. For now, Roberts said, he will “take a few days off from baseball activities” in hopes of having the discomfort subside.
In the meantime, Rios will get another shot in the majors following two brief initial stints this season while the Dodgers may have an unforeseen hole to fill on their postseason roster.
The “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” television show theme song is played before rookie catcher Will Smith’s at-bats in Dodger Stadium, and he takes it in stride.
Justin Turner scratched
Justin Turner was in the Dodgers’ original lineup Tuesday against the Baltimore Orioles, but was removed after reporting continued soreness in his left ankle. The third baseman last played Saturday.
“It’s enough [pain] that he feels trying to get another day will benefit him,” Roberts said. “So hopefully treat it up today, be available off the bench if needed, and we can get him back in there tomorrow.”
Chris Taylor, initially the Dodgers’ right fielder Tuesday, was moved to third base to replace Turner. It was his first start at third base since making three starts there in 2017.
Ryu’s rare bullpen
Hyun-Jin Ryu did something Tuesday he rarely does: throw a bullpen session. Ryu has a longer period between outings than usual after the Dodgers skipped his turn in the rotation.
The decision came after Ryu gave up 17 runs in 13 1/3 innings over his last three starts. The 32-year-old left-hander last pitched Sept. 4. Roberts said the team hasn’t determined when Ryu will pitch next, though he is an option for Saturday or Sunday against the New York Mets.
Ross Stripling will start Wednesday followed by Rich Hill in Thursday’s series finale against the Orioles and Clayton Kershaw in Friday’s series opener against the Mets.
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