Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has one less decision to make when it comes to filling out his National League Division Series roster, but given the reason, he likely wishes it was a choice he still had.
Dodgers rookie outfielder Alex Verdugo will miss the NLDS with a sore back, an injury he suffered while rehabbing from an oblique injury that sidelined him in early August. The club is hopeful he could potentially return for the NL Championship Series if it advances.
ESPN reported the news, which had been widely reported as a likelihood in the last week, and Verdugo confirmed it while speaking with reporters before Tuesday night's home game against Tampa Bay.
"It's actually extremely disappointing," Verdugo told reporters. "I love to play. It's my happy place. I've always been like that, even when I was a kid. No matter what happened outside the field, I could go out there, in between the lines, and nothing mattered. It was just go out there and play and have fun. That part, yeah, I miss it a lot. It's tough. I miss the daily grind of the guys, coming in with them every single day. It's hard. I love this game."
Tuesday night is Verdugo bobblehead night at Dodger Stadium, so the club flew him in from his rehab assignment in Arizona to be at the stadium.
Verdugo, 23, is batting .294 with 12 home runs, 44 RBIs and 43 runs scored this season, adding stellar defensive play in the outfield.
The Dodgers are expected to have A.J. Pollock and Cody Bellinger as everyday outfielders in the playoffs, with a potential platoon of Joc Pederson, Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor in the other outfield slot -- though Hernandez and Taylor can also play the infield.
Another postseason question mark, the fourth starter, could get murkier for the Dodgers, as well.
Roberts said an MRI exam on 39-year-old Rich Hill's knee revealed an injury similar to an MCL strain in his knee, leaving the manager to say he will get "a little unconventional" with his fourth starter. Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Walker Buehler are expected to start the first three games of the playoffs.
--Field Level Media