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Exuberance caused Dodgers’ Game 7 hero Cody Bellinger’s shoulder injury

Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger homers in the seventh inning.
Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger homers in the seventh inning in Game 7 of the NLCS at Globe Life Field on Sunday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Cody Bellinger said the right shoulder he dislocated by smashing forearms with teammate Kiké Hernández after the center fielder’s game-winning home run against the Atlanta Braves on Sunday night felt fine Monday.

But there is at least some concern that the injury, incurred in a 4-3 National League Championship Series Game 7 win, might impact Bellinger in the World Series against Tampa Bay.

“As I understand, I think he’s still a little bit sore, it’s a loose shoulder,” manager Dave Roberts said. “How we handle it going forward is another question. I think as far as right now, we’re going to kind of tape it up. I know there’s some braces they ordered, and I expect him to be in there [Tuesday] night.”

Bellinger capped an eight-pitch at-bat with a towering homer to right field of Braves reliever Chris Martin to snap a 3-3 tie.

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As he returned to the dugout he exchanged one leaping forearm smash with AJ Pollock and a second, more violent one, with Hernández, who had crushed a pinch-hit, game-tying homer in the sixth. Bellinger winced in pain as he descended the dugout steps and headed straight to the clubhouse.

“I hit Kiké’s shoulder a little too hard, and my shoulder popped out, so I had to go back into the trainer’s room and they popped it back in so I could go out and play defense,” Bellinger told MLB Network. “It kind of hurt.”

Roberts was more concerned about the injury affecting Bellinger’s swing than his defense. But Bellinger said he‘d dislocated the same shoulder “three or four times” and has always bounced back quickly.

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“It’s all the same,” Bellinger said. “The next day, the same. So, I already know, I already expected, how I was gonna feel. But I feel good right now.”

Bellinger said he’ll try to temper his celebrations in the future.

“I mean, it was an exciting time,” he said. “It was pure adrenaline, kind of like a thing where you just black out. Obviously, I wish I didn’t do it, but it was just such a cool moment for me. It was just pure excitement.”

Fan appreciation day

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The faith of the Dodgers’ faithful was waning. The promise of the Fall Classic was on the verge of vanishing into an autumn of despair.

As so many do in trying times, Scott Warner took to Twitter. He had not lost hope, and so he made a promise of his own: If the Dodgers win the three consecutive games necessary to win the NLCS, he would invite you and a friend to the World Series as his guest.

“Just to put some good vibes out there,” Warner said.

He wanted fans to keep hope alive, and with it the idea they could win a free trip to the World Series. Warner is a lifelong Dodgers fan and the founder of Gigg, a Utah-based company that helps companies engage with customers on social media.

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So he engaged with Dodgers fans, and anyone who retweeted was eligible to win. He got more than 8,000 retweets. After the Dodgers won the NLCS on Sunday night, Warner went live on the Dodger Yard fan site, picking the winner out of a hat (a Dodgers cap, of course).

The winner was Erich Contreras, who lives in Chino Hills. Contreras had to convince at least one member of his family that this was not some online hoax.

“My grandma was like, ‘It’s a scam,’ ” Contreras said.

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Key plays from the Dodgers’ 3-1 win over the Atlanta Braves in Game 6 of the NLCS.

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He invited his father, also a lifelong Dodgers fan, to join him in Texas and cheer on their team. Contreras recently graduated from Diamond Ranch High, but the coronavirus robbed him and classmates of pomp and circumstance. For him, the year 2020 just took a happy turn.

“With the pandemic,” he said, “I guess this is my Grad Night.”

Price check

David Price may be out of sight after the Dodgers left-hander opted out of the season because of coronavirus concerns, but he is not out of mind.

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Right fielder Mookie Betts, who played with Price on the Boston Red Sox team that beat the Dodgers in the 2018 World Series, said he talks with Price three or four times a week and exchanges text messages with him after games.

Justin Turner’s diving tag of Dansby Swanson followed by his immediate gunning out of Austin Riley at third annihilated a prime Atlanta scoring chance.

“It’s not just me, he texts the whole team,” Betts said. “That’s the kind of teammate he is, and that’s what we’re missing that he brings to the clubhouse. It’s like he’s here, but he’s not. But he’s definitely checking in to make sure he’s part of the team.”

Price, a former Vanderbilt star, was selected by Tampa Bay with the first overall pick in the 2007 draft and played a key late-season relief role in the Rays’ run to their first World Series in 2008.

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Price, acquired from Boston with Betts deal last winter, has not pitched in a regular-season game for the Dodgers, but Roberts is pretty sure where the pitcher’s loyalties lie.

“We’re paying his checks — or most of his checks,” Roberts said. “I saw him in spring training, so I hope he’s rooting for us.”

Staff writer Bill Shaikin contributed to this report.


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