Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger hopeful ‘amazing’ offseason leads to a bounce back in 2022
For most of 2021, Cody Bellinger’s season was a practice in searching for the positives.
The Dodgers outfielder experienced one of the most frustrating campaigns of his career. He underwent offseason shoulder surgery, suffered several injuries and posted career-low stats as he tried to find consistency in his approach and mechanics at the plate.
As Bellinger waits for the 2022 season to begin, however, the new year already is offering far more encouraging signs for the 26-year-old on and off the field.
In late November, he became a new dad with the birth of his daughter. Back to full health physically, he also has been able to settle into a normal offseason training routine.
That’s why, when he showed up at teammate Justin Turner’s charity golf event Monday, Bellinger was all smiles while talking with reporters.
“My offseason has been amazing,” he said. “Obviously being a dad, you want all the time in the world. But I’m ready to get going. I’m excited for the season.”
Whenever Major League Baseball’s lockout is resolved and the season begins, Bellinger figures to be one of the most intriguing players on the Dodgers’ roster.
The Dodgers’ Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger said players have concerns about negotiations for a new CBA, but they are hopeful a full season can be played.
After batting a career-low .165 last season with 10 home runs and 36 RBIs in 95 games, he rebounded during the postseason, collecting 12 hits and two memorable game-winning RBIs during the Dodgers’ run to the National League Championship Series.
He avoided arbitration after agreeing to a one-year contract worth $17 million before the lockout. When the season begins, the question will be whether or not he can rediscover the form that made him rookie of the year in 2017 and the NL most valuable player in 2019.
On Monday, Bellinger seemed confident about the state of his game, thanks in large part to the health of his right shoulder.
Last winter, Bellinger underwent surgery on the shoulder after injuring it in a celebration during the 2020 playoffs, forcing him to spend most of the offseason rehabbing. It also led to problems during the season, when he felt like he still hadn’t rebuilt full strength in his swing.
This offseason he’s been free of that burden, going through a full workout program that has included training with other players near his home in Arizona. He said he’s even had opportunities this winter to face live pitching.
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“I feel really good,” he said. “My shoulder is feeling better. I’ve been doing proper lifts to feel good. I’m swinging the bat. I’m feeling pretty good about it.”
The changes in Bellinger’s personal life following the birth of his daughter drew a laugh from the new dad as he talked about the steep learning curve that’s come with fatherhood.
“Being a dad puts a lot of things into perspective,” he said. “You don’t realize how selfish you are as a person until you have a baby. Then you’re like, ‘Oh, man, this is really the only thing that matters right now.’ So it’s been amazing.”
The only thing not going according to plan right now: the league’s labor situation, which almost certainly will delay spring training (players were scheduled to report to camp over the next two weeks) and is threatening opening day at the end of March.
“It’s extremely unfortunate, but things have to get done,” Bellinger said. “We all know that. So hopefully, these get figured out here, and we get going.”
For Bellinger, the sooner things get resolved, the better. Last season for him was a grind from the start. He’s hopeful this one is on track to begin well.
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