Dodgers’ Gavin Lux believes he’s ready for a bounce-back season

Dodgers second baseman Gavin Lux throws during a spring training game.
Dodgers second baseman Gavin Lux throws during a spring training game against the Kansas City Royals on Friday.
(Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press)

Gavin Lux needed to get away last fall. The Dodgers won the World Series and that was a thrill, but 2020 was frustrating on a personal level. He began the season as the top-ranked prospect in the Dodgers’ loaded farm system and a National League rookie of the year favorite. There was so much hype and promise in February. By October there was disappointment.

So he went home to Wisconsin, where he saw friends and family for the first time in months, before traveling back to Los Angeles for the remainder of the offseason.

“A mental reset helped a lot,” he said in a video conference with reporters Tuesday.


This spring, after a winter of overhauling his swing mechanics, the 23-year-old Lux is making loud contact every time he’s in the Dodgers’ lineup and solidifying his place on the Dodgers’ opening day roster. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has indicated that Lux will break camp as the Dodgers’ primary second baseman with some time at shortstop when Corey Seager is given a day off, playing against both right-handed and left-handed pitchers.

“I see him getting a good runway,” Roberts said, “playing regularly.”

Lux couldn’t find a rhythm in spring training last year before Major League Baseball shut down operations. Then he reported late to summer camp for undisclosed reasons. Then he didn’t make the opening day roster and never got on track.

Under likely state guidelines, the Padres wouldn’t have enough tickets even for their season-ticket holders, let alone a usual horde of Dodgers fans.

Lux started last season at the Dodgers’ alternate training site at USC until he was called up over a month into the truncated 60-game regular season. The short stint was forgettable. He went 11 for 63 (.175) with two home runs and a .596 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. He looked overwhelmed.

As a result, he was on the Dodgers’ roster for just one of their four playoff series —- in the National League Division Series against the San Diego Padres. His only appearance was a pinch-hit at-bat in the ninth inning of a blowout in Game 3. He struck out.

“It was a learning experience,” Lux said. “It’s probably a good thing in my career to struggle early on, learn how to deal with it, learn how to deal with failure. So, I think it was a good thing, honestly.”

Dodgers second baseman Gavin Lux throws during a spring training game against the Kansas City Royals on Friday.
(Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press)

The setback prompted Lux to spend the second half of the offseason in Los Angeles. He stayed with Brandon McDaniel, the Dodgers’ director of player performance, and spent the bulk of his time at Dodger Stadium. He worked out with McDaniel in the morning before taking groundballs and batting practice from third base coach Dino Ebel. The meals were healthier. The days were more regimented.

He emerged with a simpler swing. The goal, he explained, was to make his gather and swing and gather at the plate more “repeatable.” Early results are promising. Lux entered Thursday five for 11 with a double in four games before going one for three with an RBI single against the Cincinnati Reds.

“He just looks more comfortable,” Roberts said. “I think that, last year, again, the start and stop kind of got him a little bit. But, right now, there’s just been so much consistency in his work. He and the hitting guys are just all synced up. There’s clarity in his mind.”

Lux pointed out that the spring training results are meaningless, but he hasn’t felt as good at the plate since 2019. That year he torched double-A and triple-A pitching before making his major league debut, establishing himself as one of baseball’s elite prospects. Roberts on Tuesday said Lux’s prospect days are behind him. He’s a major leaguer now, one whom the Dodgers hope will find his rhythm for their title defense.