Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
When the Los Angeles Dodgers traded for Miguel Rojas during the offseason it was under an expectation that he would fill a utility role off the bench.
However, that changed in Spring Training when Gavin Lux tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee and also suffered a sprained lateral collateral ligament (LCL). He underwent season-ending surgery in early March, and Rojas was thrust into a starting role at shortstop.
More of a defense-first shortstop, Rojas was inconsistent at the plate through much of the season. However, he began to hit better during September and heads into the National League Division Series with some momentum.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts credited Rojas for his at-bat quality and ability to continue moving forward even when faced with adversity.
“I see him get down all the time. There’s a difference between getting down and frustrated. Moving on to the next play, Miguel does that as well as anybody I’ve seen,” Roberts said. “He expects a lot of himself with the bat. It hasn’t been consistent, but every time he gets in there, there’s compete, there’s fight.
“He will get big hits for us this postseason. I’m certain of it. I believe it. I see it. For me, the defense, I’ll take his defense against anybody at shortstop. A big reason why our pitching staff has been so much better in the second half is because of him.”
In his last 76 plate appearances, Rojas batted .300/.338/.429 and has been spectacular when getting himself into hitter-friendly counts. The uptick in offense is accompanied by one of the better gloves at the shortstop position in baseball, both of which caught Roberts’ eye.
“I think if you look back the last 30 days, and for sure September, he’s had a tremendous month,” Roberts said. “I just think the at-bat quality is considerably better. Taking balls out of the strike zone, and when he does get a ball that he can handle, he’s doing something with it.
“To turn the lineup over and play Gold-Glove shortstop, that’s what we were looking for from Miguel Rojas.”
The Dodgers possess an offense with Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Will Smith and J.D. Martinez, amongst their best, but having Rojas and other role players stepping up will be key to their postseason success.
Miguel Rojas hand injury
A focus for the Dodgers as the regular season wound to a close was remaining healthy, which didn’t quite happen for Rojas as he was hit by a pitch in the left hand during the series opener against the San Francisco Giants.
Rojas missed the final two games of the season but expressed confidence he would be in the Dodgers lineup come the start of the NLDS. That remains the case, though the veteran shortstop may not be back to 100%.
“At the end of the day, a hand is not as important as being out there with the boys,” Rojas said before participating in an intrasquad game earlier this week.
“I’ll try to play as many innings as I can. The only problem will be the hitting part, but defensively I should be 100% good to go.”
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