The Dodgers sent third baseman Justin Turner on a minor league rehabilitation assignment Monday with the usual farewell: just show us you’re healthy; we don’t care too much about the results.
When the Dodgers send outfielder Joc Pederson on his rehabilitation assignment — by the end of the week, they hope — they absolutely will care about the results.
Pederson is batting .200 with two home runs. Although the Dodgers largely have shielded him from left-handed pitching, his .623 on-base plus slugging percentage is the third-lowest of any National League outfielder with at least 100 plate appearances, better only than Hunter Pence and Gorkys Hernandez of the San Francisco Giants.
“When Joc comes back,” manager Dave Roberts said, “we’re going to have the confidence that he is swinging the bat the way he should be swinging the bat to warrant coming back and helping our club.”
Chris Taylor, who led the Dodgers with a .956 OPS entering play Monday, would make for a natural platoon partner with Pederson in center field. However, Taylor has the highest OPS against right-handers of any Dodgers player other than Turner.
Roberts said Taylor will play second base, third base and all three outfield positions. His answer to whether Pederson would reclaim his role of starting against right-handers did not mention Pederson.
“Now, it doesn’t matter the handedness for Chris,” Roberts said. “He’s shown me that he’s a productive hitter, regardless of who is on the mound. He’s forced our hand and made it more of a priority to find at-bats for him.”
Roberts said that Turner is expected to play two minor league games, with the hope of rejoining the Dodgers as soon as Friday. He said that Pederson’s rehabilitation assignment would be longer; major league rules limit it to 20 days.
Pederson, on the disabled list since May 25 after suffering a concussion in an outfield collision with Yasiel Puig, completed a workout Monday at Dodger Stadium. He said he understood the need for patience and said he has no idea how long it might take to get back into baseball form.
“This is my first concussion,” he said.
He said he is free of symptoms.
“It’s pretty frustrating when you’re sitting at home,” he said. “I wasn’t doing anything. My head is fine. I feel good. But the brain is something you have to take extra caution with, especially with the stuff coming out concussion-wise in the NFL.”
Back at blue heaven
Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda, 89, was back at Dodger Stadium on Monday, 11 days after surgery to install a new pacemaker.
Lasorda visited the team in the clubhouse before the game. He watched the game from the owner’s box next to the Dodgers dugout and got a warm ovation when introduced in the fourth inning.
“It’s great to be here,” he said via a team spokesman. “I am so thankful to everyone who helped to take care of me and make me well. I hope to be around for many years to come.”
There are the teams that would rather play a man short for a day or two than spend the money to fly in a replacement player from the minor leagues. Then there are the Dodgers, who flew in infielder Mike Freeman from triple-A Oklahoma City on Monday just in case outfielder Franklin Gutierrez had a recurrence of his gastrointestinal illness.
Freeman did not have a nameplate above his locker, as he was not activated. The Dodgers claimed him on waivers last month from the Seattle Mariners. He has the versatility the Dodgers crave; he has played every position but center field and catcher in a 37-game major league career.
He pitched an inning too, giving up one run but throwing 14 of 22 pitches for strikes.
“That was my goal — throw a lot of strikes and not have a long inning,” he said. “I avoided that. But I do have an ERA, unfortunately.”
Enrique Hernandez made his major league debut at first base Monday, with the Dodgers sitting left-handers Cody Bellinger and Adrian Gonzalez against Washington Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez. Hernandez has played every position but pitcher and catcher. … Alex Wood, on the disabled list because of an inflamed joint in his chest, said he expects to be activated this weekend. Wood’s 1.69 earned-run average is the lowest in the National League, although he has thrown too few innings to count among league leaders. … Corey Seager continues to lead at shortstop in fan voting for the National League All-Star game starters. Seager would be the first Dodgers player to start at shortstop since Bill Russell in 1980 — the last time the All-Star Game was played at Dodger Stadium.
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