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Dodgers: Dave Roberts Says A.J. Pollock Not Alex Verdugo Will Be Starting CF

Veteran’s return from injury bumps the youngster from center.

The Los Angeles Dodgers outfield of Joc Pederson, Alex Verdugo, and Cody Bellinger has performed at an elite level for much of the 2019 season. However, A.J. Pollock’s return is on the horizon. With that, the Dodgers need to figure out how to manage three spots.

Although Los Angeles is 19-6 with Verdugo in center and 16-10 with Pollock manning the spot, manager Dave Roberts says he has a clear idea of who will play center upon the return of the veteran.

Remember, Roberts is an old school player. Perhaps he is of the school of thought that you shouldn’t lose your job due to an injury.

On Friday, Roberts echoed this sentiment to the media. Per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:

When A.J. comes back, he’s going to play. Right now, as we’re sitting here, I expect A.J. to play center field, that’s where he’s played. There’s one thing about keeping guys comfortable and challenging them. Right now, we’re definitely fine with A.J. in center field.

Clearly, Roberts knows who he wants in center field. As with all things, time will tell the story on if this was the right decision. However, basing it off the recent past; the choice doesn’t seem so clear.

Without running a dozen stats by you, we will break it down to one number. In 60 games, Verdugo has posted a 1.7 bWAR in comparison to Pollock’s -0.7 in 28 games.

Of course, no one has asked the skipper yet why he would try to fix what isn’t broken. However one can bet if Pollock returns – and he hasn’t raised his level of play – the question will get asked.

Who Would You Play?

How would you manage the situation in the outfield upon Pollock’s return? Do you disagree with what Roberts is planning to do with Verdugo by moving him out of center field? Let us know in the comments below!

Written by Clint Evans

Clint lives in Ohio, and played collegiate baseball. He loves the Dodgers due to his first memories of Chavez Ravine when he was nine years old. The voice of Vin Scully has been a staple in his life since he was a kid. No amount of baseball talk is ever enough, and he wishes the regular season was year round. He has written about baseball online since 2007.

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  1. I disagree with roberts, no surprise here from me. If Bellinger is in RF, and Pollock’s in CF, Verdugo should get LF in place of taylor/pederson. I’m not sure Verdugo has played LF even in the minors. I would play Verdugo in CF.

    • At the very least, it would be another platoon. If a prospect, you hate playing for Robert’s, if a starter, you love his loyalty, even if you suck. That said, Yanks and Bumgarner’s is a WS move. Pinstripe boys looking for tough pitching against who presume is going to be their opponent. Another Verlander fail by our FO boys?

    • I’m afraid (and I really believe this) Pollock is done. He’s given no indication that he can return to his form of three years ago. Injuries have driven him into a downward spiral from which I see no recovery. Outfield should be Peterson (Taylor), Verdugo and Bellinger. Also….. I think all three are currently in mini slumps and I hope they pull out of it soon.

  2. What does Pollock’s contract look like and they be trying to get him out there to use him as a trade piece?

  3. If it’s not broken why try to fix it Pollock has not shown anything to me since being a Dodger

  4. Clint, the Dodgers once again last night fell victim and were shown to be vulnerable to good LHP..
    I was not surprised at all with the lack of offense and the abundance of K’s. Hopefully Pollock will rise to the occasion upon returning and whether one agrees with me or not we need another everyday RHB in the lineup and in case one hasn’t noticed Verdugo has struggled offensively now for some time. It may be that the pitchers are now catching up with him too.

    • If the pitchers have seen how to pitch(get-out) to Verdugo, then it is Verdugo’s turn to make adjustments to them. You know the “proverbial cat-and-mouse” or chess-match.

      • True that for sure, but if he is having stiff back issues, that is most likely affecting his hitting. But yes he , like anyone else in MLB has to adjust. This is a relatively easy call upon Pollock’s return and Dodgers didn’t shell out $60 million to have Pollock become a bench player.

    • Pomeranz is meat. Lineup inconsistency has guys guessing and prone to self doubt. How do you let Pomeranz outpitch Kersh? Last night was on Roberts.

    • I’m with you, have a lot of faith in Pollock’s ability to rake against some LHP. I just want to see the guy who can be a 3ish WAR player. I am worried that rust and injuries have eroded that guy. I think Verdugo is the better everyday option regardless of handedness. But I need more time to really make a final decision.

      Hopeful that Pollock has a big signature moment late in the year. I liked the signing.

  5. I am not saying that Verdugo should or should not be in center field when Pollock returns. But was it not Cody Bellinger who replaced Adrian Gonzalez at first base in ’17? Dave was our manager then, so he is (apparently) not too “old school.” Or did I miss something?

    • Barbara, that situation was slightly different in that yes, Agon, as he was called did have injury issues that he was basically free of in the years before and he was at that time not the offensive force in the lineup he once was. Adrian was getting close to the latter stages of his career and knew that he was not going to be able to be in there daily as he was before. Age in a way did catch up with him and we all know what Bellinger did to unseat him at first base. After all Bellinger set a NL record for HR’s by a rookie in 2017 with 39, with 12 of those coming off of LHP, which BTW led all of MLB for a lefty hitter.

      • I do see an analogy. My point is that Bellinger was given an opportunity to unseat (albeit, deservedly so) Gonzalez from that first base spot. (And no disagreement here, thank goodness Bellinger did.) I understand that Gonzalez was not necessarily in his prime at 34. But it would seem that 31 year old Pollock, injury-prone as well, may not be in his prime either. Meanwhile, Verdugo may be coming into his own. Again, I clearly state that I am not saying Verdugo should or should not be our center fielder. But he is very talented and pretty reliable as a situational hitter. I guess we will all wait to see how well Pollock performs upon his return. As for Dave Roberts “old school” philosophy (which may include not replacing players due to injury), my point is that he has done it before. And it is doubtful that, at the time the decision was made, Roberts knew that Bellinger would turn out to be the extraordinarily gifted/elite player that he is.

        • roberts has no idea who is good and who is not….look at the game on 6/9/19….5 starters in the .200 area and fans are paying top dollar to see the Dodgers and the other four are watching their averages fall……no chemistry in starting line-up and no motivation to play better…..top pitcher and a second string line-up ruins a pitcher

    • Bellinger kind of forced their hand. They were talking about sending Bellinger down in ’17 there even after a great start.

  6. Dodger fans. Did Turner because he “is nursing a hamstring injury” cost the Dodgers a run in the first inning of Saturday’s game. He was on 2nd bas and when Seager hit the ball to left field, even the Dodgers Joe(I forgot his last name, works with Hershiser on Dodgers network) said that Turner would normally score on that hit ball. I say put Turner on the IL and get a guy who can score on that play!

  7. Turner should have scored from second base. And yes, you did hear the announcer say that Turner would normally (but for the injury.) score in that situation. Admittedly, I was perplexed as to why Turner stopped at third. Frustrating…..but lets see how the rest of the game plays out.

  8. IMO I would rather Turner not score in the 2nd. Not worth the risk of injury especially for a guy hitting .300+. He is obviously banged up. My question is why a pinch runner wasn’t put in instead?

  9. I would do a split for the next couple weeks and if it turns out the rookie does better well idk isn’t the idea to give it to the best and to win? There is no job guarantees even in baseball.

  10. AJ has been injury prone for years!! Surprised the dodgers signed him for that price.. I’ll play the youngster..

  11. Regardless of how well Roberts has done as manager, he’s not thinking clearly if he believes Pollock should reclaim the position upon his return simply because he was the starter in center when he went out for elbow surgery. There’s an old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. And, does anyone remember the guy who missed some games and was replaced by a guy named Gehrig?

  12. Roberts should leave the current lineup as is….Verdugo Is a hustler and why bring back a guy who is still not performing up to his standards??…I question Robert’s decisions as a coach when it comes to pitchers….I’m a diehard Dodger fan but cmon Robert’s….b baseball smart

  13. Don’t ya just hate the Internet…what a difference a day makes. Nobody bragging about the Dodgers choking and being afraid of the little. bitty giants. 😉

  14. I agree with the majority here. Roberts is a Players Manager which means he cares more about how the Players Feel about him than how it affects the Team overall. Not allowing a player to lose his position because of injury is the OLD Players Rule that was BS then and is BS now.
    Plus as stated here Pollock has always been injury prone the guy is a 911 call waiting to happen.
    Granted if he can come back and hit the ball we need the right-handed bat in the lineup as Daniel says. However, so far Verdugo has much better defensive stats than Pollock with far superior arm and better range. I would play Pollock around the OF as Verdugo is simply better in Center. I would not care about Pollock’s bruised ego he is an injury waiting to happen. And I think at the end of the day Verdugo is better.

  15. If it were me, A.J. would platoon with Alex, at least until A.J. proves he’s playing a lot better then he was when he got hurt . . .

  16. AJ has had some injuries all related to the first elbow surgery done wrong by the DBacks. I think Roberts is correct to get him back into the game. He has always been a positive influence on teammates and works very hard to get back to his capabilities. Mark my words…. he will make a difference to LA down the stretch…..

  17. Pollack will do one of three things…
    1) Play Well
    2) Not Play Well
    3) Get Injured
    He is injury prone so most likely it will be #3. Then the discussion is over, except for the part about the decision to sign him for $60 Million.
    Same for #2
    #1 – Great!

  18. Great posts everyone!!!!I do not understand why Roberts would automatically put Pollock back into center. Verdugo did everything and more than anyone could ask of him. Frankly, I would rather have seen the Dodgers keep the money they gave to Pollock, and use it to obtain a quality relieft pitcher and a decent right handed bat. If we move Verdugo to left, what happens to Joc and CT3?
    Again, platooning raises its ugly head. Yes, I know, Roberts said both would see playing time. That is not good enough. AV, as Robin said, is currently having some medical issues. He had played his way into the everyday lineup, and until Pollock shows he is better, he (AV) should start.Go Blue!!!

  19. Alex is tired and needs some rest. You can see it in his body language. He’s not going anywhere. They are not going to release him. Sometimes an athlete needs to sit on the bench and watch. Especially the young ones. Dave knows what he is doing, and that is why he is in the dugout, and not “us”.

  20. This is why I wish they would use a DH in the the national league. If someone can hit, you should be able to find a spot for them in the line up. Also having a DH in the line up makes the game more exciting.

  21. I strongly disagree with what Roberts is going taking verdugo out of the lineup I’m not at all happy with pollock think they wasted the $60 mil I think we are going to see that play out. LEAVE VERDUGO in the lineup !!!!

  22. AJ who?

    Alex Verdugo is our man. He has the Dodger spirit and the skills, so let AJ find a team that has a player less talented than Alex Verdugo. AJ could contribute to that team, but he has little to offer the Dodgers with Alex Verdugo in the house.

  23. In fairness to Friedman and Roberts, no one knew Verdugo would be this good this quickly. I have no problem with Pollock going back into the lineup. BUT……..Now that Verdugo has shown just how good he can be, they should now do the RH/LH platoon with Pollock, just like everyone else has had to platoon. He should not be given the everyday position any longer. Make him take it back by out playing Verdugo when he is out there. I doubt that he can.

  24. I also think Pollock would be a great trade chip for a top flight relief fix. Whereas Verdugo should remain untouchable (for me) in a trade deal………

  25. Such idiots. Easy to tell that so many of you have never done anything in sports other than channel surfing. Use your brains. It’s a 162 game season. The idea is to get all of your players going prior to post season. That includes rotating your outfielders so pollack gets his timing back, limiting Urias so he can help in the playoffs, and keeping Peterson playing well while getting Taylor and Hernandez going. Try moving past your short sighted impulses and more towards long term strategy. Thank god you are not the manager or we’d be doomed!

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