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    Jason Heyward’s knee injury opens door for James Outman to rejoin Dodgers
    • July 6, 2024

    LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers got relatively good news from Jason Heyward’s MRI on Friday morning. But James Outman got the real good news.

    The exam of Heyward’s left knee showed only a contusion similar to a hyperextension, according to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. But there was no damage to the meniscus or ligaments in the knee.

    “We think we dodged the bullet with Jason,” Roberts said.

    Heyward injured his knee while trying to rob Joc Pederson of a home run in the first inning on Thursday night. Heyward jumped up to try and catch the drive. When he came down, he felt something on the outside of his left knee.

    “I felt it immediately when I landed,” Heyward said after Thursday’s game. “It was one of those plays in the outfield where it still looks like you can catch the ball. Of course if I caught it, it would’ve been like robbing a homer. But that’s usually how those look, like ‘Hey you never know so jump just in case.’

    “But as soon as I landed, it felt like one of those trust falls. It happened fast. Put my feet down and I was like ‘Alright, this doesn’t feel great.’”

    Roberts estimated that Heyward could return in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, he was placed on the injured list – opening a spot for Outman to return to the big leagues.

    After finishing third in the National League Rookie of the Year voting last season, Outman opened this year as the Dodgers’ every-day center fielder. He hit just .147 with a .516 OPS in 36 games before being demoted to Triple-A in mid-May.

    In 38 games at Oklahoma City, Outman hit .279 with nine home runs, 21 RBIs and a .924 OPS. He said he used the time to step back and “kind of get back to the mindset and the player that got me to the big leagues.”

    Practically that meant “being convicted in my swings, just going out and playing. It’s really pretty simple actually.” In the first month of the season, Outman said he became “maybe just too wrapped up in the mechanics and what the plan of attack was.”

    “I think just kind of reminding myself it’s a game. We’re all good baseball players. Just go out there and play. Let the ball fall where it may,” he said.

    Andy Pages has been the Dodgers’ primary center fielder. His offense has tailed off since a hot start but he remains productive against left-handed pitching (a .356 average and .906 OPS) while Outman has been “fantastic” against right-handers in Triple-A, according to Roberts. Pages and Outman could share playing time in center field. Heyward’s absence will also open up more playing time for Miguel Vargas, Roberts said.

    “I think that Vargy is a neutral guy, and he’s taking good at-bats vs. right-handers so I do want to give him opportunities versus righties,” Roberts said of Vargas.

    Vargas has made just 11 starts since being promoted from Triple-A when Outman was demoted, all in left field. But he has hit .308 (12 for 39) and this week he started taking ground balls at third base during pre-game workouts. It’s a position he played in the minor leagues but not at all this season.

    “Vargy hasn’t played third base in quite some time. But given where Max (Muncy) is at, it just made more sense to kind of push him along and see how it looks to give us another option,” Roberts said. “Third base as we look out – it might happen.”

    In the first 43 games Muncy has missed with his oblique strain, his replacements at third base combined to hit .162 (24 for 148).

    MLB DEBUT

    The Dodgers will promote left-hander Justin Wrobelski to start Sunday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers. It will be the major-league debut for the fast-rising prospect.

    After pitching for one season at Oklahoma State, Wrobelski had Tommy John surgery two months before the 2021 draft. The Dodgers took him in the 11th round anyway and signed him to an over-slot $197,500 bonus.

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    The 23-year-old left-hander is not on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster. Yoshinobu Yamamoto could be moved to the 60-day injured list to open a roster spot for Wrobelski. Yamamoto has been out three weeks with a rotator cuff strain and is not expected to start a throwing program until late next week, according to Roberts.

    ALSO

    Dodgers relievers covered 14⅔ innings over the first four games of this homestand, so the Dodgers swapped out arms in the bullpen again Friday. Left-hander Nick Ramirez was returned to Triple-A Oklahoma City and right-hander Gus Varland was recalled.

    UP NEXT

    Brewers (RHP Freddy Peralta, 6-4, 3.83 ERA) at Dodgers (LHP James Paxton, 7-2, 4.28 ERA), Saturday, 4:15 p.m., FOX (Ch. 11), 570 AM

    ​ Orange County Register 

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