Former Dodgers MVP Cody Bellinger Underestimated Impact Of Shoulder Surgery

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Cody Bellinger spent the first six seasons of his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers after being selected in the fourth round of the 2013 MLB Draft. He made his debut in 2017 and went on to win National League Rookie of the Year honors, along with numerous other accolades.

However, Bellinger struggled over his final two seasons with the Dodgers, which led to getting non-tendered this past offseason. Bellinger signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Cubs and is in the midst of his most productive season since winning the 2019 NL MVP Award.

Bellinger’s downfall with the Dodgers began when he dislocated his right shoulder while celebrating a key home run in Game 7 of the 2020 NL Championship Series. He still managed to play in all six World Series games after that before undergoing surgery that offseason.

The 28-year-old had a lengthy recovery but was deemed healthy enough to be in the Dodgers’ Opening Day lineup for the 2021 season. In reflecting on the shoulder injury and ensuing struggles, Bellinger admitted he probably returned too quickly, per ESPN’s Jesse Rogers:

“I came back as soon as possible from it, not knowing anything,” Bellinger told ESPN. “I never dealt with an injury. I never thought how surgery would really affect me. Didn’t even know that it did until later on in that year (2021) when I did some one-hand drills. I was like, ‘I had no idea where anything [with the shoulder] is right now.’”

Bellinger also believes the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic limited his ability to rehab during the 2020 offseason:

“Then we had a lockout and I couldn’t work with people that I wanted to work with,” Bellinger said. “I never got to get back to who I was until this offseason.”

Bellinger only appeared in 95 games during the 2021 season as a result of three separate injured lists that were unrelated to his shoulder. He had somewhat of a bounce-back the following year by appearing in 144 games, but it wasn’t enough to convince the Dodgers to tender him a contract.

Bellinger now appears to have full strength back in his shoulder and is hitting .320/.366/.549 with 23 doubles, 22 home runs, 81 RBI and 19 stolen bases in 104 games with the Cubs this season.

Cody Bellinger expected to spend career with Dodgers

During the Cubs’ visit to Dodger Stadium in April, Bellinger explained that he thought he would spend his entire career with the Dodgers. “Yeah, I mean, at one point, for sure,” he said.

“But like I said, throughout this whole process, not that I realized, but life is not always planned. As we all know as we grow older, for me, God works in mysterious ways. I just try and be in the moment and appreciate what comes next for me.”

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