Cody Bellinger benched by Dodgers as struggles continue

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MILWAUKEE – Cody Bellinger, the 2019 NL MVP whose production has fallen off dramatically since, was benched by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Bellinger might sit out the final three games of the team’s series at Milwaukee.

“I just wanted to give him a little bit of a reset,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He’s been grinding a lot.”

Bellinger is batting .206 with 15 homers and 50 RBIs. He started in center field Monday night against the Brewers, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, and has two hits in his last 19 at-bats.

Chris Taylor shifted from left field to center for Tuesday’s game, with Joey Gallo joining the lineup in left.

Roberts is hopeful Bellinger can work through his struggles in time to help the Dodgers in September and beyond. Los Angeles has the best record in the majors.

“He’s a guy we’re counting on,” Roberts said.

Bellinger won the NL Rookie of the Year honors in 2017 and two years later was the MVP, batting .305 with 47 homers and 115 RBIs.

He batted .239 with 12 homers in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, then dipped to .165 with 10 homers in 95 games last year.

“There aren’t that many people in this game that had that quick ascension,” Roberts said. “So, now having to deal with some adversity over the last two-and-a-half years, it’s not easy. I just want him to know that we are all supporting him.”

Roberts didn’t rule out using Bellinger in a platoon situation if he doesn’t find his stroke.

“At some point, I’m going to put the guys out there that give us the best chance to win,” he said.

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

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ST. LOUIS — Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 701st home run, connecting Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols launched a slider from former teammate Johan Oviedo over the Big Mac Land sign in left field at Busch Stadium. The solo drive in the fourth inning made it 1-all.

Pujols faced Oviedo for the first time and made the 24-year-old righty the 456th different pitcher he’s homered against.

The St. Louis star hadn’t homered in a week since hitting No. 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday. Pujols had gone 10 at-bats without a home run after two starts and one pinch-hit appearance.

The Busch Stadium crowd gave the 42-year-old Pujols a long standing ovation before he came out of the Cardinals dugout to tip his cap for a curtain call.

Pujols hit his 22nd home run this season for the NL Central champion Cardinals.

Pujols is fourth on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).