Dodgers News: Max Muncy’s Fractured Finger Created Mental Challenge

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With only three weeks of Summer Camp to prepare for a condensed 2020 regular season, the Los Angeles Dodgers quickly began incorporating intrasquad games at Dodger Stadium. The club held their first official workout July 3 and started games two days later.

Although it provided pitchers with an opportunity to stretch out and gave hitters a chance to see live at-bats, Max Muncy was unable to participate in the early going. He was hit by an Alex Wood pitch in ring finger on his left hand.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the team was going to take a cautious approach to getting Muncy back into the lineup, and it wasn’t until the final handful of days in Summer Camp that he returned. Muncy started all three scrimmages and has been in the lineup on a regular basis since the season began.

However, he’s not yet looked to be the hitter seen the past two years, and some of that likely had to to do with sustaining a fracture in his finger. Muncy revealed the injury during an interview with Alanna Rizzo on SportsNet LA, explaining how the bigger issue was it led to mental and mechanical changes:

“I was feeling good going into Spring Training and then it stops. I put a lot of good work in during the quarantine, and we come back, first intrasquad game I break my finger. So I was trying to come back from that. Every little thing piling up at once, but jut trying to find a rhythm, trying to get comfortable and not let the results carry too much but that’s tough in a sport where results matter so much. …

“Yeah, I did. I don’t know if I was supposed to that. It was fractured, so it was something we were trying to monitor. It was a little difficult to grip the bat sometimes, but I wasn’t going to let that bother me. … I think one of the hardest things was just mentally. I started doing something where I was pulling my hands in behind me and was trying to protect them. That’s a tough habit to get out of it, so I was coming around the ball a lot, my swing was getting long, I was missing a lot of pitches over the plate and I’m still doing that a little bit.”

The Dodgers never disclosed the full extent of Muncy’s injury, and when asked about it, Roberts downplayed it likely being the reason for his slow start. “I think that’s a better question for Max,” Roberts said.

“But I still see the bat speed, I see him in the strike zone. He’s just a click late, off or under it. He’s barreling a lot of baseballs, so I don’t know if it has something to do with the finger or not. I still feel good when he’s in the box.”

Muncy went 0-for-4 in Saturday’s loss, marking a fifth time in eight games this month he’s been held hitless.

Dropped in Dodgers lineup

On top of recovering from the injury, Muncy went into this season hitting from the leadoff spot when the Dodgers faced a right-handed starter. He admitted to it being a challenge, but it was something Muncy was willing to grow more comfortable with.

After mixed results, Roberts penciled Muncy in sixth in the series opener agains the Giants; he hit fifth on Saturday. “It’s just a sense of giving him a different look and letting the game come to him a little bit,” Roberts explained.

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