Dodgers: Is it time for LAD to worry about Cody Bellinger?

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 18: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is congratulated by Enrique Hernandez #14 after hitting a solo home run against the Atlanta Braves during the seventh inning in Game Seven of the National League Championship Series at Globe Life Field on October 18, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 18: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is congratulated by Enrique Hernandez #14 after hitting a solo home run against the Atlanta Braves during the seventh inning in Game Seven of the National League Championship Series at Globe Life Field on October 18, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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Some less than encouraging news has emerged about Cody Bellinger’s offseason progress.

The star centerfielder is reportedly still unable to swing a bat following shoulder surgery in November. The surgery, of course, was to repair the damage Bellinger suffered in Game 7 of the NLCS, after an ill-fated celebration with Kiké Hernandez following a pivotal homer off Chris Martin.

Thankfully, Bellinger was able to play the rest of the postseason, as the injury was to his non-throwing shoulder.

But the off-hand shoulder plays an important role in hitting, and it is a bit worrisome that he’s not taking swings, as pitchers and catchers report in less than a month.

It’s not ideal for any player to miss getting his hacks at this point of the year, but I believe the issue to be exacerbated with a player like Bellinger.

We’ve seen what he can do when he’s on. He had an historic first half of 2019, and the Dodger rookie record book has the name “Cody Bellinger” written all over it. As talented as he is, however, the 25-year-old slugger has battled inconsistency throughout his big league career.

Bellinger has a big swing that likely requires more adjustments than a player with a more contact-oriented approach. He goes on stretches where he hits like Lou Gehrig and stretches where he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. Streaky hitters like Bellinger need more reps to dial in their swings and approaches, which is hard to do when he can’t swing a bat.

Hopefully, Bellinger will be able to get his swing right soon. He was supposedly going to be ready for Spring Training after the surgery, and although he might not be as far along as we would’ve hoped, there’s still time.

Even if Bellinger’s swing is out of whack to start the season, he has a good grasp of the zone and is talented enough to impact the game with his defense and base running. He led all of baseball in outs-above-average last season. It’s not like the Dodger lineup will be scraping by without him, either, even with the uncertainty regarding Justin Turner’s return/replacement.

The team should be deep enough to hold off the Padres until Bellinger gets his mojo back, even with the San Diego rotation seemingly getting scarier everyday (the Padres recently acquired Joe Musgrove from the Pirates in a three-team deal).

Of course, we’re hoping Bellinger will be ready and mashing by Opening Day, but it’s nice to know the team is good enough to hold their own if he isn’t producing out of the gates. One thing’s for sure: he’s going to take it easier with the high fives.

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