Dodgers observations: Cody Bellinger ‘in a good spot’ with his swing progress

Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger gives a fist bump to catcher Tomas Telis.
Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger, left, gives a fist bump to catcher Tomas Telis during batting practice on March 13.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

If not for the lockout, the Dodgers would have been at Chavez Ravine on Thursday, opening the regular season against the Colorado Rockies.

Instead, the team was still in Arizona, trying to work through the kinks of a shortened spring training that manager Dave Roberts acknowledged has been a mixed bag of performances.

“Individually, there have been some guys that have had good camps. But overall, it just needs to get better. We’ll see where we’re at. The season isn’t going to wait for us.”


With barely a week to go before the club’s new opening day — on April 8 in Denver against the Rockies — here are five observations on where the team stands.


Bellinger ‘progressing’ with new swing

Dodgers' Cody Bellinger gets ready to bat before a spring training game.
Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger gets ready to bat before a spring training game against the Seattle Mariners on March 19 in Peoria, Ariz.
(Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)

After watching the former MVP struggling with swing changes for most of the spring, Dodgers coaches finally saw some positive signs from Cody Bellinger this week. In a game Wednesday, he snapped a four-game hitless streak with a bloop single into shallow left field, but more important, he barreled up a well-struck grounder in his next at-bat.

“I think he’s found a consistent setup and stance, and now he just needs to get the repetitions,” Roberts said Wednesday, before adding on Thursday morning: “It’s a work in progress, but the main thing is we have Cody’s buy-in and understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish together.”

On Thursday, Dodgers hitting coaches Brant Brown and Robert Van Scoyoc echoed that optimism.


Named the opening day starter for the first time in his career, Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler always makes quite an impression on those around him.

March 31, 2022

Brown noted that while Bellinger’s shoulder has healed from a surgery he had before the start of last season, it now feels tighter than it used to — adding another layer of difficulty as he tries to get reaccustomed to his swing.

“He’s just trying to find his body,” Brown said, adding: “It’s just navigating through that process and trying to be more in tune with what the real is versus the feel.”

Added Van Scoyoc: “We’ve seen some good results of late and I think he’s going to keep kind of going that way. He’s in a good spot.”


Roster decisions

Dodgers third baseman Edwin Ríos throws to first for the out on Seattle Mariners' Luis Torrens.
Dodgers third baseman Edwin Ríos throws to first for the out on Seattle Mariners’ Luis Torrens during the second inning of a spring training game on March 19 in Peoria, Ariz.
(Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)

Most of the Dodgers’ opening day roster already appears set. They know their rotation and starting lineup. Gavin Lux, Hanser Alberto and Austin Barnes are seemingly locks to be on the bench.


The only remaining question is who the final couple of spots will go to — and whether the Dodgers will carry 15 or 16 pitchers on the 28-man roster for the first month of the season.

Roberts said 16 pitchers could make sense for several reasons. Starters won’t be built all the way up during the early weeks. The introduction of the designated hitter to the National League will result in fewer pinch-hit opportunities. And the Dodgers’ schedule begins in hitter-friendly Coors Field before featuring several quick days off that should preclude the team from needing to give their regulars much rest early on.

If the Dodgers keep only 12 position players, it could force Edwin Ríos and Jake Lamb — who both have had standout camps — to begin the campaign in the minors. However, Major League Baseball’s normal 26-man roster rules (which include a 13-pitcher maximum) come back into effect in May, ensuring that the roster the Dodgers pick to begin the season will have to change again before long.


Bullpen roles

Dodgers pitcher David Price throws a pitch during a spring training workout.
Dodgers pitcher David Price throws a pitch during a spring training workout on March 13 in Phoenix.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

Pitching coach Mark Prior reiterated Thursday that the Dodgers likely won’t enter the season with a single closer. Instead, the team will at least begin the season using multiple relievers in save situations and continually reevaluate their options as the year goes on.


“We’ll look at our situation, we’ll look at our workloads with guys in general and just see kind of where everything lines up, matches up,” he said. “I’m sure it’s going to be probably a smaller few than the entire bullpen, so I don’t think it’s a full committee. But I think it’s just going to be game by game and series by series.”

One pitcher who seemingly won’t be featured at the start of the season is left-hander Caleb Ferguson, who Roberts said this week is “unlikely” to be ready by opening day as he returns from Tommy John surgery. Tommy Kahnle (Tommy John recovery) and Phil Bickford (who had a slow ramp-up this spring) are also not on track to be available for the season opener.

A reliever who has impressed of late: David Price, who tossed a scoreless inning in his Cactus League debut Wednesday and could serve in any number of roles for the Dodgers —including potentially as a one-inning option instead of as a bulk arm, according to Roberts.


Freddie Freeman settling in

Dodgers' Freddie Freeman bats during the first inning of a spring training game.
Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman bats during the first inning of a spring training game against the Texas Rangers on Thursday in Surprise, Ariz.
(Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)

Every day is starting to feel like less of a whirlwind for Freddie Freeman, who is now two weeks into his Dodgers career.


On the field, the first baseman is batting .333 this spring with a home run and a couple of RBIs. Behind the scenes, he’s been trying to learn the names of three new teammates or club employees every day. And following Thursday’s game, he said despite his late arrival to camp he feels like he’s up to speed for the start of the season.

“Everything [in my swing] seems to be working up through the middle, which is all I can ask for,” Freeman said. “I didn’t miss much time. Only missed a couple practices. So it’s not really like I was behind. I feel ready to go.”

Freeman was also looking forward to Sunday’s Freeway Series game at Angel Stadium. An Angels fan during his childhood in Orange County, Freeman has only played in the ballpark once as a professional, a three-game series with the Atlanta Braves in 2011 (he was out with a broken wrist when the Braves returned in 2017).

“I’m gonna need some help [with tickets] for Angel Stadium,” Freeman said with a big smile. “There might be a whole section.”

The Dodgers renewed the contract of Andrew Toles.

March 29, 2022


Short hops

Mookie Betts played in back-to-back games for the first time this spring Wednesday and Thursday. He has been cold at the plate, however, going just one for 14 in five spring games so far.


Chris Taylor has played in the outfield a couple of times this week, his first appearances there since having a minor elbow procedure this offseason.

Corey Seager hit a home run against the Dodgers on Thursday, facing his old team for the first time since signing with the Texas Rangers prior to the lockout. Roberts said he hasn’t talked to Seager much since his departure, but saw him this week when the shortstop took some of the Dodgers clubhouse staff out to dinner.