Cubs hoping they will get the precise numbers from Cody Bellinger

The subsequent chapter in Cody Bellinger’s skilled baseball profession started on Saturday with an error as he walked to the plate for his first at-bat as a member of the Chicago Cubs.

“Quantity 35,” the Sloan Park announcer bellowed, “Cody Bellinger!”

The issue: Bellinger is not quantity 35. That was his quantity with the Dodgers. These days are over. He’s quantity 24 now. The blue is a bit completely different. There’s a bit extra purple. Enjoying for the primary time in his profession for a staff with no World Sequence prospects, the stress to regain his All-Star kind stays.

Bellinger’s time with the Dodgers ended abruptly earlier than anybody might have anticipated within the not-so-distant previous. He was not tendered in November with one yr of membership management left. His drop-off within the earlier three seasons was steep, however the transfer was nonetheless stunning. The wound apparently hasn’t healed but.

For 4 days, Bellinger didn’t seem on the clubhouse when it was open to the media after being notified of an interview request from a Los Angeles reporter. On the third day, he took the great distance from a backfield to keep away from the reporter and a Los Angeles tv crew.

He declined to talk formally via a Cubs spokesperson on Day 4, Saturday, after going 0 for 2 with a strikeout in his spring coaching debut with the Cubs. Bellinger didn’t make the journey to Camelback Ranch on Sunday for the sport in opposition to the Dodgers.

“The reality is I didn’t actually have many conversations with the Dodgers till he wasn’t supplied as a result of I felt it was extra of a indisputable fact that he would proceed with them as a result of they’d rights over him.” Scott Boras, Bellinger’s agent, mentioned final week. “I had no thought they wouldn’t provide it.”

Former Dodgers heart fielder Cody Bellinger patrols the outfield at Wrigley Subject for the Chicago Cubs this season.

(Morry Gash / Related Press)

Boras had good cause. The 27-year-old Bellinger hit .203 with a .648 on-base-plus-slugging proportion over the previous three seasons, however he was named Nationwide League MVP the yr earlier than. He’s a former rookie of the yr and a two-time All-Star. He has a gold gauntlet and a silver slugger in his trophy case. He grew to become a fan favourite in Los Angeles for six seasons, serving to them attain the postseason every year and win a World Sequence title in 2020.

However the Dodgers determined it was an excessive amount of to pay Bellinger $18 million, the wage projected via arbitration. They determined to launch the midfielder in hopes of re-signing him for less expensive than paying that worth.

Boras mentioned he met Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations, on the winter conferences the primary week of December. Friedman defined that it was an “financial choice” to not provide Bellinger a contract and that they had been open to re-signing him at a lower cost.

Boras mentioned 11 groups contacted him about Bellinger the day he was fired. Bellinger ultimately agreed to a one-year, $17.5 million assured contract with the Cubs on the winter conferences.

“We felt like there was numerous upside,” mentioned Cubs common supervisor Carter Hawkins. “While you see somebody who’s performed at that degree earlier than, it’s a lot simpler to undertaking that he might come again than somebody who by no means has.”

The Dodgers enter the 2023 season with uncertainty in midfield after the lack of free agent Kevin Kiemaier. Jason Heyward, Chris Taylor and Trayce Thompson are candidates to separate time there.

“The market was very completely different on what the Dodgers thought Cody’s value was,” Boras mentioned.

Bellinger’s manufacturing plummeted in the course of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season after successful the MVP award. He then dislocated his shoulder in the course of the Nationwide League Championship Sequence. The damage required surgical procedure in November, which by all accounts undermined his energy in 2021.

Cody Bellinger flies out on his final at bat for the Dodgers in Sport 4 of the NLDS in opposition to the San Diego Padres.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Occasions)

He went on the injured checklist thrice – he broke his fibula, handled hamstrings and broke a rib – restricted him to 95 video games. He hit .165 with a .542 OPS, however the Dodgers nonetheless believed in his expertise.

The numbers improved in 2022, however not a lot. He hit .210 with a .654 OPS in 144 video games. He was relegated to a platoon in September – not beginning in opposition to left-handed pitchers. The relegation took one other step with the season on the road in Sport 4 of the Nationwide League Division Sequence when he was benched in opposition to San Diego Padres right-hander Joe Musgrove.

Cubs officers mentioned Bellinger will play heart subject daily. Their focus is on two areas: his well being, which they consider will make for extra constant mechanics.

“I feel all these issues are intertwined,” Hawkins mentioned. “It’s at all times one thing on the backside of the chain that influences one thing on the prime of the chain. The physique is a system. The swing is a system. And you’ll’t do one with out affecting the opposite.”

Bellinger frolicked in low season coaching with former main league participant Matt Holliday and his son Jackson—the highest choose in final yr’s draft—at Oklahoma State earlier than signing with Chicago. Cubs hitting coach Dustin Kelly, who beforehand labored within the Dodgers group, mentioned he started working with Bellinger on the Cubs complicated in Arizona two days after he signed.

“Gold Glove, rookie of the yr, MVP, to have that at 27, all of us thought, ‘Wow, that is going to be superior,’” Kelly mentioned. “And it’s been nice. He was open to the whole lot we put in entrance of him. After which he’s bought some nice concepts of his personal that we’ve began integrating a bit bit extra into a few of his coaching.

Hoyer mentioned the membership has emphasised that Bellinger is extra of an athlete within the batter’s field and fewer targeted on changes.

“The Dodgers are actually good at what they do,” mentioned Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer, “however typically it will possibly actually assist to get a man out of a sure setting.”

Cubs supervisor David Ross acknowledged that Bellinger has some extent to show earlier than he runs into free company once more. Maybe his days as an MVP candidate are over. However there’s loads of room between his monster 2019 season and his manufacturing over the previous three years. Hundreds of thousands of {dollars} are at stake.

The trial started on Saturday with a blunder over the sound system earlier than the announcer bought the tune proper for his subsequent at-bat. It’s additionally the form of rebound Bellinger wants.