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Dodgers: Cody Bellinger Has Not Been Able to Work on His Swing

The shoulder injury that required surgery has not allowed Belli time to work on his swing.



One of the biggest storylines from the Dodgers Summer Camp last season seemed to be a change for Cody Bellinger. The reigning NL MVP came into came looking a little different at the plate, and the results were troublesome. 

Bellinger reportedly was unhappy with the second half of his MVP season, so he worked on adjustments going into 2020. He came into Summer Camp moving his bat around a lot and seemed to be on top of the plate more, also standing pigeon-toed. As expected, he didn’t show much for the Dodgers during camp. 

The Dodgers All-Star outfielder started off the 2020 season by going 5-for-36 in the month of July. He kept playing with his swing throughout the season and eventually seemed to work back toward his normal 2019 approach, bringing much better results. 

Related: How Far Apart Are the Dodgers With Buehler and Barnes In Arb?

When the postseason rolled around, Bellinger found his swing often when it mattered most. The slash line for all of October wasn’t indicative of the value that he brought the Dodgers as they headed for their first title since 1988. But a homerun he hit in Game 7 of the NLCS might cause some issues entering the 2021 season. 

When Bellinger took Martin deep to take the lead in that game, the celebration was to slam arms into Joc Pederson and Kiké Hernandez. The shoulder bump with Kiké dislocated Cody’s shoulder, causing him to wear and shoulder brace for the World Series. 

Bellinger also had to have surgery during the offseason to address the “loose shoulder” that caused the injury. And according to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Bellinger still has not been able to work on the swing that slowed him down last season. As the Dodgers approach Spring Training, Bellinger is still unable to swing a bat and get his mechanics locked in. 

It might mean nothing, but Bellinger not swinging a bat this late in January can be a concern. That would mean that the last time he took a swing was in Game 6 of the World Series, way back at the end of October. Most players have at least started taking swings in cages or off of batting tees by this point. 

Something to keep an eye on as we head into February. 

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Written by Brook Smith

Brook is the Senior Editor of Dodgers Nation, with several years of experience in sports journalism. He is an avid Dodgers and Lakers fan, and can be spotted fairly often at Dodger Stadium and Staples Center.

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  1. On nov 17th, it was reported that Bellinger should be able to swing a bat in 4 weeks, with full recovery in 10 weeks. On Dec 19th, it was reported Bellinger was recovering faster than expected. On Jan 17th, it is reported that Bellinger hasn’t been able to swing a bat yet. Something isn’t adding up.

      • Amen, intentionally jamming yourself with a strike is not a great strategy. All of the pro commentators like Big Papi, A Rod etc commented on his stance issues.
        My daughter is a PT for Olympic & professional athletes. She says shoulders are a difficult rehab and every surgery is different and takes different time frames.
        Urias supposedly did not have as severe an injury as they had feared and look how long it took him to recover.

        • The recovery time you referenced is a real reason why we cannot expect similar power numbers for a while yet. I would also hope the Dodgrr hitting coaches will seriously address this batting stance issue with Cody as well .

  2. Cody Bellinger’s shoulder injury is reminiscent of the Chris Webber shoulder injury. Like Bellinger, Webber disconnected his shoulder several times until he finally had to operate on it, when he came back from shoulder surgery he was never the same player again. The Lakers were looking for a backup center in 2007 they were picking between Webber and DJ Mbenga, they ended signing Mbenga because Webber was so done by then. Unfortunately for Cody Bellinger this is the beginning of his deterioration, he’s literally an “one-armed man”, so his playing days are pretty much over.

    • Cody has an over 90% chance of making a full recovery, though the timeline is uncertain. Urias surgery was for a torn capsule, and that is a very serious operation for a pitcher. Many will never be the same again, in Urias case, the damage was not as bad as it could have been, and he seems to be fully recovered after a long rehab. Shoulder dislocation surgery has a very high recovery rate. It helps in Cody’s case, it was not his throwing arm. It is going to have a worse prognosis for a basketball player, especially a center, it is a contact sport with constant impact on the shoulder by very large, heavy and super strong athletes. Cody should have a full recovery, but it could take up to a few more months than originally anticipated if he hasn’t been able to swing a bat yet. And by the way, I am a doctor with a specialty in sports injuries.

      • Good info here as far as Cody is concerned. I of course am not a MD but figured that the recovery time for Bellinger would be longer than first indicated upon first hearing of the surgery having been done.

      • Yes but his problem was caused by unnecessary contact…showing off – and that is what is most galling. And Kike deserves some of the blame because that wind up from the first base line seats wasn’t necessary. Give your team mate a high five and let him play another day….Call me old fashion, but the game is played on the field, not on the way to the dugout after a homer…

        • These types of celebratory rituals have always concerned me, they are far too wild, guys getting body slammed, helmet smashed, and yes, some of these super aggressive high 5s would break my hand. They have been generally toned down after some gnarly injuries, I’ll never forget Kendry Morales, after hitting a game winning grand slam, being carted off the field, basically ending his Angels career. With Cody, we should remember he made his homer saving catch and game winning homer after the dislocation, and his shoulder instability was a chronic problem, that was why they moved him off first base, and his hesitancy to dive after balls in the outfield. Most likely he’ll be OK, but it concerns me he isn’t swinging a bat yet, we need him to be great this year, with the Padres doing what they are doing.

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