Dodgers’ Miguel Vargas discovering methods to nurture his expertise amid swingless spring

Miguel Vargas had by no means achieved something like this in his complete baseball life.

In every of his Cactus League at bats to date this spring, the Dodgers’ rookie second baseman has walked to the plate, held his upright stance, and swung his bat as he waited for a pitch.

Nonetheless, at no level did Vargas make a swing, a minimum of not in any recreation.

“It’s so bizarre,” the 23-year-old mentioned with a self-mockery final weekend. “I really feel so uncomfortable on the board.”

There’s a purpose behind the obvious spring insanity. Through the first week of camp, Vargas suffered a hairline crack in his proper little finger when he grounded out.

It was not a critical harm. No surgical procedure or perhaps a forged was mandatory. His protection has remained untouched and due to this fact the upcoming huge league infielder has nonetheless performed in exhibition video games.

However out of an abundance of warning, the Dodgers blocked Vargas from swinging in a type of dwell at bats.

“It’s a part of what I’ve to do,” Vargas mentioned. “And every time I can, I’m able to swing.”

The Dodgers hope that day will come quickly. Based on supervisor Dave Roberts, the workforce is specializing in Wednesday’s recreation to clear Vargas for his first actual spring swing.

For an acclaimed prospect greatest recognized for his bat, it was an odd expertise.

Nonetheless, the longer it goes on, the extra the scenario has produced some sudden silver linings.

“He understands the method,” Roberts mentioned. “And I simply assume the worth we’ve had in getting him on the market, getting his legs beneath him and enjoying some protection has been actually useful.”

Miguel Vargas of the Dodgers runs to 3rd base throughout a spring coaching recreation in opposition to the Arizona Diamondbacks on March 2 in Phoenix.

(Ross D. Franklin / Related Press)

Probably the most notable end result: Vargas has continued to get on base often in current weeks.

4 occasions in his 10 at bats, opposing pitchers have walked Vargas – oblivious to his limitations or extra targeted on their very own mechanics and care supply.

Zack Greinke was an exception on Saturday evening, throwing Vargas a 59 mph curveball figuring out he wasn’t going to bid for it.

Moreover, Vargas has made a comical behavior of taking 4 balls and waking as much as first base.

“They in all probability don’t know,” joked Vargas, who walked solely twice in 50 at bats within the Dutch huge league throughout his debut season final 12 months. “In the event that they knew, they’d in all probability use three fields.”

It additionally has an underlying benefit, permitting Vargas to trace a slew of pitches as he prepares for what must be his first full MLB marketing campaign.

“He’s seen so many pitches on the plate,” mentioned Roberts. “I believe that’s additionally a approach to assist.”

Vargas’ shortened time within the batting cage has additionally been constructively redistributed.

As a result of his pitches aren’t hindered by his injured little finger, Vargas has not solely been in a position to proceed defensive drills, however has additionally been in a position to spend extra time fielding grounders across the infield. It’s a possible key growth for a participant whose protection is in excessive demand at second base, a place the Dodgers have little depth within the wake of Gavin Lux’s season-ending knee harm.

Discovering a defensive match for Vargas has been difficult for the Dodgers all through his minor league profession. He primarily performed third base whereas of their farm system, and final 12 months experimented in left discipline as effectively.

It’s second place the place Vargas feels most comfy.

To date in camp, throughout video games and backfield drills, he’s been liable to numerous misspellings, from kicked grounders to foul throws.

“It’s a part of the expertise,” Roberts mentioned. “However so long as the intention, the best way he prepares (don’t change) — there can be rising pains. That’s apparent.”

Miguel Vargas has impressed Dodgers supervisor Dave Roberts regardless of an irregular spring coaching this 12 months.

(Ross D. Franklin / Related Press)

Roberts thinks Vargas has the athletic sources to succeed at second, and he simply must brush up on his fundamentals, from enjoying decrease on the filth to drilling extra constant arm movement together with his throws to first base.

“There have been some actually spectacular performs,” Roberts mentioned, referring to a few of Vargas’ diving efforts in his early spring video games. “After which there have been some performs that I believe he might have made. So I believe at this level we anticipated that. However our expectation is that he expects to get higher day-after-day.”

Together with his damaged little finger maintaining his day by day schedule free, Vargas was usually one of many final gamers to go away the Camelback Ranch backfields every afternoon. Normally that additional work is completed beneath the steerage of infield coaches Dino Ebel and Chris Woodward, and alongside veterans like Miguel Rojas and Mookie Betts.

“I concerned lots of people within the course of,” Vargas mentioned. “They helped me so much.”

The fruits of that work could already be seen.

In a current prolonged session with Betts, Vargas fielded virtually each grounder properly, made correct throws throughout the diamond from each side of second base, and appeared extra in tune together with his physique place and footwork.

Because it ended, after a clean double play, Vargas started an underhand somersault to Betts in second, Roberts ran out to greet the rookie, yelling and applauding as if the Dodgers had simply received an everyday season recreation.

“That was superb!” mentioned the supervisor.

Nonetheless, it received’t really feel like a standard spring till Vargas can begin hacking throughout video games once more.

As a lot as he’s embraced the experiment — “No less than I now have excuses if I strike out,” he jokingly mentioned on Saturday — he’s desirous to get again to his ordinary routine on the file.

“I’m simply excited to swing,” he mentioned.

When requested what he has realized from his limitations of not swinging, Vargas once more provided some humor.

“I imply, it informed me if I don’t swing on the ball I’ll in all probability be first 50% of the time,” he mentioned with amusing.

However when it was instructed that his on-base share would drop when he began swinging once more, the assured second baseman was fast to reply – hinting on the hope that his atypical leaping energy will ultimately assist spherical out his recreation.

“Perhaps not,” he mentioned. “It might go up.”