Dodgers outfielder Gavin Lux hits a triple against the Cincinnati Reds on September 18th.
(Aaron Doster / Associated Press)
PHOENIX – Gavin Lux has looked like another hitter since returning to the Dodgers earlier this month.
To keep him in the lineup this week, the Dodgers have given him another position that he needs to learn.
After Lux first started in midfield in the majors on Thursday, Lux was pushed back into position for Friday’s series opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks, finishing in eighth place while the Dodgers continue to try out the San Francisco Giants in the National League To catch up with the west rating.
Prior to that month, Lux had never played at the Center in his professional career since the Dodgers drafted him to 20th overall in 2016.
But after Lux first played in a triple-A game with Oklahoma City in the middle on September 5, Lux was urged to do the same in consecutive games this week as the Dodgers faced multiple injuries on their outfield.
Although Lux has limited outfield experience – he’s also started 10 times this season in left field after playing exclusively on second base in his first two seasons in the Big League – he continues to guarantee chances with his racket.
On Friday, the 23-year-old hit 0.444 with an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of 1.163 in 11 games since he was called back to the majors earlier this month.
“I’m just finding ways I can help get in there and help us win a few more games,” Lux said earlier this week, adding that he is “a lot more comfortable” outside the infield.
“It’s all about getting repetitions and taking reads off the rails,” he said. “Well, day and night compared to a week ago.”
Lux’s midfield experiment could not be long.
Manager Dave Roberts said Chris Taylor – who will be available from the bench on Friday – is slated to return to the starting line-up in midfield on Saturday.
The team are hoping to get Cody Bellinger off the injured list next week, despite Roberts said Bellinger is not progressing quite as fast as hoped from a broken left rib he sustained in an outfield collision with Lux last weekend.
Bellinger, who can already be activated on Tuesday, is expected to swing during punch training on Saturday.
“I don’t want to force him to play on Tuesday,” said Roberts of Bellinger, who largely shared midfield playing time with Taylor before his injury. “When it happens, it happens. It’s just an everyday thing. “
Meanwhile, Lux gives the Dodgers another option – both with his racket and increasing versatility in the outfield.
“The easiest way to argue with the outfield, midfield, because that reads [off the bat] are truer, ”said Roberts. “There is certainly more ground to cover. With Gavin I can rely on the speed. “
Justin Turner finishes sixth
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner hits the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)
For the first time since 2015, Justin Turner was placed below fifth in the Dodgers’ batting order on Friday, reaching sixth when attempting a recent 13-for-60 slump on the plate.
“Obviously he grinded, didn’t get the results,” said Roberts of Turner, who still started this season with an average of .274 and 25 home runs on Friday.
Roberts added, “I spoke to Justin about this just to give him a warning and he doesn’t mind. He didn’t flinch. He’s just ready to help us win a ball game no matter where he hits in the order. “
Roberts said he believes Turner’s recent bouts were mainly caused by timing issues in his swing.
“The biggest part of it, and he’ll confirm to himself, is that once he gets a grip on the pitches, the at-bat doesn’t end,” Roberts said. “This is common with all hits when you are not doing well. If you get good pitches, you have to do something with them. I think in the past four to five weeks he’s probably missed more than he’s used to.
“He’s been going through the kind of spurts that all thugs sometimes do in one season. [This one has lasted] This year maybe a little longer than I had hoped, but I know that he will turn things around and play big so that we can end this season. “
Here is the full line-up of the Dodgers (98-55) for Friday against the Diamondbacks (49-104):
Mookie Betts, RF
Corey Seager, SS
Trea Turner, 2B
Max Muncy, 1B
Will Smith, C.
Justin Turner, 3B
AJ Pollock, LF
Gavin Lux, CF
Tony Gonsolin, P.