Dodgers Injuries: Austin Barnes’ Back Trouble Not Cause For Concern

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Austin Barnes was scratched from the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup on Tuesday night and replaced by Chris Okey for their game against the Los Angeles Angels.

The start was going to be Barnes’ seventh in Cactus League play thus far. He’s largely alternated days with Will Smith as both catchers enter the home stretch of preparing for the start of the 2024 regular season.

Although Barnes wasn’t able to play Tuesday night, manager Dave Roberts explained there isn’t much concern moving forward, via SportsNet LA:

“Barnes is a late scratch; back tightness. So he’ll be down today and we’ll see how he responds. … I talked to Austin, and he said he could probably be in there today. We just felt that we’d give it a day and re-visit tomorrow.”

Roberts further discussed Barnes’ back injury as a new issue that surfaced without a clear explanation:

“New issue. I don’t know where it manifested. He was doing some early work, catching, some swings, and he just said it not even locked up, but just got tight. It was more of a medical decision.”

Further supporting Roberts’ notion that there wasn’t much concern with Barnes was his return to the Dodgers lineup for Wednesday’s game against the Chicago White Sox.

While Barnes has largely started every other day, he was behind the plate for back-to-back games on March 1 and 2. He didn’t play Sunday and the Dodgers then had the first off day in their Spring Training schedule on Monday.

Including Wednesday, the Dodgers have just eight games remaining on their Cactus League schedule. They will then play two exhibition games in South Korea before opening the regular season with the Seoul Series.

Austin Barnes’ 2024 outlook

Barnes is entering another season in which he’ll serve as the Dodgers’ backup catcher to Smith. It’s also potentially his final year with the team.

The Dodgers signed Barnes to a two-year, $7 million contract extension that runs through the 2024 season but includes a team option for 2025 as well. Barnes has the potential to earn bonuses by thresholds for games played.

The Dodgers’ team option on Barnes’ contract for 2025 is $3.5 million. Barnes currently is their longest-tenured position player on the roster with this season being his 10th.

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