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MLB manager makes unexpected example out of rising star - 'There wasn't hustle'

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After a slow start that has the defending NL champions sitting in 11th place in the standings, the Los Angeles Dodgers seem to have found their fall guy.

Manager Dave Roberts benched reigning NL Rookie of the Year and All-Star Cody Bellinger in the middle of Sunday’s game.

Roberts cited a lack of hustle from his star first baseman as he pulled Bellinger in the fifth inning of the Dodgers’ 4-2 loss to the rival Giants.

In the top of the fifth, Bellinger smashed a ball 421 feet to “Triples Alley” of AT&T Park and wound up on second base. Roberts felt he didn’t bust it out of the box and should have ended up on third.

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It’s hard to tell if Bellinger admired his shot out of the batter’s box as the camera cut away, but right center field is the area where hits most often end in a triple.

“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 afterward. “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.”

Bellinger leads the Dodgers in runs and hits while playing in all 27 games. This marks the first time all season that he hasn’t finished a game that he started.

After the game, Bellinger explained that he didn’t want to make an out on the bases with his team trailing 4-0.

“I didn’t know any reason,” he said. “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 curve ball, 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.”

Do you agree with Roberts' decision to bench Bellinger?

Bellinger added, “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 manager’s decision. I can’t say anything against it.”

His replacement in the game was Max Muncy, who went 1-for-2 in the game but boasts a .196 career batting average across three seasons.

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There was no word on whether Bellinger will return to the lineup when the Dodgers visit Arizona on Monday night.

It will be the first game in a four-game series with the Diamondbacks, who have the best record in the National League.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
Location
Houston, Texas
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English
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