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    Dodgers demote Miguel Vargas after poor first half
    • July 9, 2023

    LOS ANGELES — Miguel Vargas’ potential motivated the Dodgers to hand him a job as their second baseman. His performance has prompted them to take it away.

    Vargas was optioned to the minor leagues Sunday after batting just .195 with a .672 OPS and 80 OPS-plus (100 is league average) in 81 games. The 23-year-old rookie reached the All-Star break with five hits in his last 63 at-bats.

    The Dodgers also optioned left-hander Bryan Hudson and activated right-hander Yency Almonte from the paternity list.

    The moves leave one roster spot open. Both Chris Taylor and Clayton Kershaw are expected to be activated from the Injured List at some point after the Dodgers return from the All-Star break.

    The every-day second baseman when the season started despite his limited experience — in the big leagues and at the position — Vargas started 69 games there in the first half. But his protracted slump prompted the Dodgers to bench him, particularly against right-handed pitching. Mookie Betts started at second base six times in the Dodgers’ last 13 games before the break.

    Earlier this week, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts acknowledged that a demotion for Vargas could be “on the table.”

    “There’s a piece of winning here, and there’s also a piece of putting his mind where it needs to be, because clearly right now, he’s pressing. He’s never struggled like this,” Roberts said of Vargas, who has a .313 average and .878 OPS in his minor-league career.

    “I do believe the defense is getting better, and the experience of being at the major league level is helpful. But it’s also helpful to feel yourself getting some hits and getting your confidence going. … He’s grinding. He’s playing hard. But it’s just not happening.”

    The Dodgers open the second half on Friday in New York against the Mets. Vargas cannot be recalled for 10 days unless it is to replace a player going to the IL.

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    ​ Orange County Register