LOS ANGELES, Calif – Cody Bellinger was playing in the Arizona Fall League this time last year for the Glendale Desert Dogs. This year has been a spectacular rookie season for him in which he burst onto the scene after starting the season in Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers.
I asked him about being in the fall league last year and this year playing in a championship series. “It’s been a blessing for sure. Yea, it’s been crazy this whole year. I am trying to soak it in as much as I can. Trying to enjoy this moment as much as I can with the team and the family.”
When Spring Training started, Bellinger talked about what he envisioned for himself in 2017. “Honestly, I thought I was going to be a September call-up, maybe mid to end the season. But I had no expectations to get called up at the time I did. But when Triple-A season started, I wanted to do everything I could to have the front office trust me if they were to call me up.”
Bellinger was promoted by Los Angeles on April 25, 2017. In his 18 games for OKC, he hit .343 with five home runs and 15 RBI, with a perfect 7-for-7 in steals.
To fully appreciate the impact Bellinger had on the Dodgers, they were 9-11 before he was promoted and they went 95-47 after his arrival. All he did was lead the team in home runs (39), RBI (97) and runs scored (87).
Prior to the NLDS, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts shared that he spoke with Bellinger about the expectations of postseason baseball, and to make sure he was in a good place mentally. “I think for the most part he’s in a good place. On the baseball field, he’s in a good place. I like him in the batter’s box. I like him on the field. I like him in a Dodgers uniform.”
The 2017 season and the postseason experience, has had a lot of firsts for him. Bellinger struggled with a 1-for-10 and six strikeouts in the first two games of the NLDS. However, he seemed to get things right in game three off one of the games best in Zack Greinke of the Diamondbacks. His first at-bat was grounder, driving in his first postseason RBI.
When asked about what has he learned about postseason baseball, Bellinger replied, “It’s stressful. It’s fun. Everything matters a little more, every at-bat matters a little more. But you try to treat it like a regular season game.”
Was this what he needed to jump start him? Many believe so. In his second at-bat, he swung under a changeup by Greinke and flew out weakly to opposite field. This set up his third at-bat. Bellinger saw the same changeup on a 3-1 count and he didn’t miss it, smashing the ball for a solo home run, his first of the postseason, helping in the sweep of Arizona.
Playing in Los Angeles, the city of a fast-paced and on the go lifestyle, Bellinger has shown to be grounded. When asked about who had this influence in handling all the accolades this year, he replied, “Yeah, I think the biggest thing was my dad always told me to respect the game as much as I can on and off the field and that’s what I try and do.”
At 21 years of age, look for much more success from this young superstar in the making. The future is bright. With family support, he knows that he can never be bigger than the game and the respect for the game will never be lost.