Max Muncy won’t be playing much first base for the Los Angeles Dodgers this season, but he’s just happy to be back on the diamond.
“It was good to be back,” Muncy said Monday after his return to game action in the Cactus League. He batted second and played third base, with a strikeout and a walk in three innings against the Chicago White Sox.
Muncy was injured in the Dodgers’ final regular-season game last year against Milwaukee in a collision near first base with the Brewers’ Jace Peterson. The 31-year-old missed the entire postseason with a torn ligament in his left elbow.
“The most important thing is to get out there and get some game action,” Muncy said. “The elbow felt fine getting some ABs on the back fields, but when you get a little adrenaline going it’s helpful. The swing is a different matter, but we gotta worry about the elbow first. You’ve gotta get it moving. It’s like if you’re sitting in a car for a long time, your legs get stiff. It’s almost like that. A couple more games I think we’ll be all right.”
With the condensed spring training and Muncy’s progress, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said it was time to see what Muncy could do.
“I know Max was getting a little anxious, so this is the right time to get him in there and over at third base,” Roberts said before Monday’s game. “You don’t want to compromise your mechanics. The most important thing is he feels healthy and strong. There’s going to be a timing adjustment, but physically and mentally he’s in a good place.”
Muncy made his second All-Star team last season, finishing with 36 homers and 94 RBIs. He finished 10th in the National League MVP vote as the Dodgers won 106 games.
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With the addition of free agent Freddie Freeman, Muncy will return to his familiar role as a utilityman while being somewhere in the lineup every day — if not in the field, at designated hitter now that the rule has been adopted for the National League.
“It’s third, it’s second, there’s going to be some DHs,” Roberts said of Muncy’s role.
Even last year while mostly playing first base, Muncy got into 39 games at second base and seven at third base.
Roberts said Chris Taylor is scheduled to play in the field for the first time on Thursday, at second base. Taylor had surgery in the offseason to remove bone chips from his right elbow and has been brought along slowly. He has served as a DH already this spring.
Taylor’s throwing elbow bothered him down the stretch, but he says he’s fine now.
“It’s 100 percent, just working back to the endurance part,” Taylor said. “When you have an injury that forces you to do (physical therapy), it ends up working out for the better.”
The Dodgers have already said Freeman will make his Dodgers debut on Tuesday and Mookie Betts will play for the first time this spring on Wednesday. ... Roberts said Walker Buehler will start Tuesday’s game against Cincinnati, with Andrew Heaney to follow Buehler to the mound. ... Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to face Cleveland on Wednesday, the manager said.