Nearly three months after surgery on his right shoulder, Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger has not been cleared to start taking full swings. But Manager Dave Roberts is confident Bellinger will be ready for Opening Day.
Roberts said the most recent reports he has received indicated Bellinger was taking one-handed swings, using his left arm only. But Roberts expects the 2019 National League MVP to be ready to take batting practice when full-squad workouts begin on Feb. 23.
Dodgers pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report for spring training on Feb. 17 with the first workout on Feb. 18.
“Once we get to full-squad workouts, I would expect to have him on the field, taking swings,” Roberts said, adding that Bellinger will have no limits on his participation in defensive workouts as a result of the surgery.
Bellinger underwent surgery on Nov. 17 to stabilize the right shoulder that he dislocated during Game 7 of the National League Championship Series in October.
Bellinger has had a history of popping the shoulder out of its socket. He did it during his minor-league career then again on a diving defensive play at first base in May of 2019, prompting his move to the outfield as his primary position. Surgery was considered following that season but Bellinger opted for a program of strengthening exercises.
He did it again during the NLCS, this time dislocating his shoulder when he shared an enthusiastic forearm bash with teammate Kiké Hernandez following Bellinger’s go-ahead home run in Game 7.
Recovery time for the surgery, which was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, was expected to be 10 weeks. Bellinger reached that point at the end of January.
“I think right now we’re right where we need to be, from what the trainers are saying,” Roberts said. “When you look out at spring training as far as the position-player side, taking at-bats, there’s plenty of time. So however it looks for Cody’s schedule as far as building it out, I’m not concerned at all for him to be ready offensively for the start of the season.”
The Dodgers are scheduled to start the 2021 regular season on April 1 in Colorado.