Dave Roberts Benched Cody Bellinger For Not Hustling Even Though He Hustled Just Fine

MLB: APR 29 Dodgers at Giants

After making it to Game 7 of the World Series last October, the Dodgers haven’t exactly kept the ball rolling here in April of the following season. They just dropped three of four to the Giants, who have a -19 run differential, and they’ve lost five of their last six overall with the remaining losses coming at the hands of the Miami Marlins. And I’ve gotta be honest with ya here — that’s not great.

In another losing effort on Sunday to drop to 12-15 on the year, fourth place in the NL West, Cody Bellinger hammered a hanger on a 2-2 pitch for a double. The ball one-hopped the wall in Triples Alley, as the 22-year-old pulled up at second base. Now, when you watch the video, it does not come across as a base runner who’s dogging it. To be fair, the camera doesn’t follow him the whole way around the bases, but in no way do you get the impression that he should’ve been standing at third base by the end of the play. The ball didn’t kick around out there, it was fielded cleanly and returned back to the infield in a timely manner.

Dave Roberts, for some reason, saw this play unfold much differently and benched Bellinger for a lack of hustle.

“I felt there wasn’t hustle on the play — the ball that he hit 421 feet into right-center field, and he cruised into second base,” Roberts told reporters, referring to a ball Bellinger smacked into the area called “Triples Alley.” “He plays every day, and there’s certain expectations for the way we have to play the game. When you don’t abide by that, we’ll get somebody in there that will. It’s pretty simple.”

Again, the camera doesn’t follow Bellinger the whole time that he’s running, but at no point was I like, “How the fuck is he not on third base right now?” Just because you hit a ball into “Triples Alley” does not mean that you automatically should get a triple. To his credit, Bellinger handled the situation better than most 22-year-olds in his position would.

“I got in the dugout and he said I was out of the game,” Bellinger told reporters after the game. “I didn’t know any reason. Just put on my jacket, went up to the railing and watched the game. I’ve always played the game hard. I kind of took a big swing on the curveball, ended up on my knee. We’re down four runs. I’m not trying to make an out on the bases, going to third. He saw what he saw. It’s all good. I’m never going to dog that. Obviously it’s ‘Triples Alley.’ That’s what they call it. We’re down four. … That was my reasoning. … It was his decision. I can’t say anything against it.”

I mean, that’s just admirable. I feel like most people his age would’ve been like, “I got benched for crushing a double and then not making a stupid base running decision by trying to take third when we’re down four runs and I’m already in scoring position with nobody out. That’s essentially what happened.” Definitely commend Bellinger for that. And when he was asked if he thought Roberts was trying to make an example out of him to send a message to the rest of the team, I think he nailed his response on that, too.

“Yeah, it could have been,” Bellinger said. “Like I said, I’m always hustling to beat out ground balls. I feel like I’m always hustling. I don’t know — it just kind of didn’t make sense to me. But I get it as well. He’s trying to prove a point. Being the young guy, I got to hustle.”

For the record, Bellinger is hitting .291 with an .827 OPS this season. If you’re trying to make an example out of someone to send a message to the rest of the team that it’s time to pick it up, maybe pick someone who’s part of the problem and do it when they actually do something wrong. Just a thought.