When Adrian Gonzalez originally was placed on the disabled list due to back problems back in June, he told the Dodgers management that he was unable to play. He recommended they call up all-star rookie slugger Cody Bellinger and the rest is history. While Gonzo mended behind the scenes, Bellinger not only turned into the top home run hitter on the club, but one of the most dangerous hitters in the National League. It was a beautiful act of selflessness and cemented his reputation as being a wonderful teammate and savvy veteran.
Since Gonzalez’s return from the disabled list he’s been utterly punch-less. This is not surprising since he’s been reportedly playing with a herniated disc in his back. In the 38 at-bats since returning from the disabled list he’s batted just .184 and has a slugging percentage of .316. Overall Gonzo is slashing .241/.288/.335 with just a .623 OPS and only two home runs in 223 plate appearances. Gonzo is simply not the same hitter he’s been throughout his career.
After Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Brewers Gonzo once again felt tightness in his back. Manager Dave Roberts stated that Gonzalez would be moved back to the bench once Bellinger is activated from the disabled list on Wednesday.
The Dodgers had hoped to be able to put Bellinger in left and put Gonzo back at his first base position. In the process letting him get his timing back and see if he had anything left for the playoffs. Unfortunately it seems that this season is a lost year for Gonzo and he has little to nothing left in the tank.
The Dodgers have been very quiet offensively of late. They’ve scored just two runs in their last two games and lost their first series since June on Sunday afternoon. The Dodgers certainly need Bellinger in the lineup. The boys in blue are 78-23 when Bellinger plays and 13-15 when he doesn’t. That’s not a coincidence.
Right now the Dodgers are 91-38 and have the best record in baseball. They have a 19-game lead in the National league West with just 33 games left to play. They can afford to experiment and shuffle the lineup around.
I think Dave Roberts and Dodger management are making the right decision to put Gonzalez on the bench. He may not even make the postseason roster. The Dodgers are going to have some tough decisions in the next few weeks and rosters are due to expand on September 1.
This is no disrespect to Gonzalez. He’s been one of the most productive hitters in baseball over the last decade. He’s been a great Dodger and is a great man. He’s hit 100 home runs as a Dodger and has recently collected his 2,000 career MLB hit. He’s had a long and successful career and his value as a teammate and his baseball knowledge are invaluable. He’ll be there to guide the youngsters through the postseason whether he’s on the bench, in the lineup, or not playing at all.
As I stated above, Gonzalez is a wonderful man and a terrific player. His contributions to charity off the field are well known. His work ethic is second to none. I can’t imagine the Dodgers without him and we won’t know until next season if this really is the beginning of his decline. Perhaps he’ll have a couple more productive seasons left in him?
But the Dodgers need to move forward. Management knows this and so does Gonzo. It’s sad, but father time catches up to everyone. It’s time to put the needs of the team ahead of the needs of the few or the one. Sorry Gonzo.