Dodgers say it’s ‘very unlikely’ rookie Alex Verdugo will be ready for the NLDS

Dodgers rookie Alex Verdugo bats during a game against the Padres on Aug. 4.
Rookie Alex Verdugo hasn’t played for the Dodgers since he was put on the injured list in early August.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Alex Verdugo will rejoin the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Tuesday, but not to play baseball. The rookie outfielder hasn’t resumed baseball activities since he injured his back in a game on a rehabilitation assignment Sept. 2 and won’t when he returns to California from Arizona, where he has been stationed.

With 20 days remaining until Game 1 of the National League Division Series, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts acknowledged it’s “very unlikely” Verdugo will be on the roster for the first round. His regular season is almost certainly over.

“But we expect to play through October, so there’s no hard deadline anyway,” Roberts said. “The key is to do whatever it takes to get him healthy. And then where that leads us, we’ll know more.”


Dodgers starter Rich Hill is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on his injured knee on Monday. It remains to be seen when the 39-year-old might return.

Verdugo, 23, was placed on the injured list Aug. 6 with a strained oblique. That injury healed by the end of August, so he was sent on a minor league rehab assignment with short-season Ogden. He was slated to spend a week playing in games for the affiliate. He played in one and aggravated a back problem that began nagging him in May.

Verdugo’s absence is a blow for the Dodgers. He batted .294 with 12 home runs and an .817 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. He’s a high-contact-rate hitter who doesn’t strike out often. His 13 percent strikeout rate is the second lowest on the team behind Matt Beaty. Defensively, Verdugo is a plus outfielder and possesses perhaps the outfield group’s best arm.

Short hops

Justin Turner isn’t expected to play in the Dodgers’ three-game series against the New York Mets as a left ankle sprain continues to plague him. The third baseman hasn’t played since last Saturday. Roberts said he expects Turner will be in the starting lineup Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Rays. … Max Muncy was activated from the injured list Friday. The infielder fractured his right wrist when he was hit by a pitch Aug. 28. He said the fracture affects his throwing but not his swing. He will play with a brace on it. … Utility player Kristopher Negron had a death in his family and won’t be with the team in New York. He will rejoin the club Tuesday in Los Angeles.