LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Coming up on three months of the 2022 MLB season, the Dodgers are hot, ranking third in the league overall. Center fielder Cody Bellinger can taste another World Series championship just like the now 26-year-old did in 2020.
But everything has to go just right.
“I know it only makes you hungrier,” Bellinger said. “We’ve been close a lot of the time, and we got over the hump one time and that was an incredible feeling, and we expect that every single year. If we play our game, we have a good chance to go all the way.”
At 24 years old in his fourth season of the Majors, Bellinger achieved success early helping his Los Angeles team take down the Tampa Bay Rays in six games for the Dodgers’ seventh World Series title.
“I had so much success at a young age going into this league. I think that — I know that it’s in there, and so I’m just excited to continue to play this game of baseball for as long as I can and just continue to show myself and show people what I can do on the baseball field.”
The next season wouldn’t be as elite as Bellinger would have liked. The Scottsdale, Ariz. native finished his worst batting season to date with .165 in 95 games played.
He was hindered by four injuries including a bruised left calf in April 2021, left hamstring strain in June and July and a fractured left rib in September.
“It was obviously super frustrating, a lot of the times confusing,” Bellinger said. ”Looking back at it, my body wasn’t able to do what it was doing because I was dealing with a lot of different stuff. I accepted that. When the postseason came, it was a clean slate for me. I threw what happened in the regular season away.
The postseason was showtime for Bellinger. He said he didn’t want the regular season to be his story.
Bellinger started feeling healthier and hit a .353 post-season batting average to help send the Dodgers back to the National League conference series before the Atlanta Braves finished them off in six games.
The year before that, the Dodgers claimed the conference title and sent the Braves packing after seven games.
“Yeah it seems as if it's been us two for the past two, three years, maybe even in the years before that," Bellinger said. "We knocked them out, or they knocked us out. It’s definitely becoming a little bit of a rivalry for sure.”
So far this season, the Dodgers have won both series versus the Braves, but Atlanta, ranked sixth in overall standings, isn't far behind Los Angeles.
Bellinger says every time the teams go at it, it feels like a playoff atmosphere and Atlanta is tough, especially when all of their pieces are healthy.
As for Bellinger, he said he feels pretty healthy too and his body is holding up well after a slew of injuries in 2021.
“Really good,” he said. “I’ve got a really good routine. My swing is in a really consistent spot right now."
As for teammate right fielder Mookie Betts, not so much. On June 15 at Dodgers Stadium, Bellinger and Betts poorly communicated on who would catch Los Angeles Angels’ third baseman Tyler Ward’s ball at short right center.
Betts originally didn’t know he cracked his right rib in the first inning but soon found himself on the Injury List where he still sits despite taking dry swings from time to time.
”We both were just making sure the ball was caught, and some late communication on our part,” Bellinger said. “They say he didn’t catch the ball, but we both thought he caught the ball.
“It sucks. I felt really bad about it obviously. He’s feeling good though, and I’m hoping that he gets back with us here shortly.”
For now, the Dodgers are making do. Bellinger is batting .212, totals 10 home runs and has nine stolen bases. In the National League, the Dodgers rank fifth in best batting average at .252 barely trailing the Cardinals at .254.
“We’re just obviously a really talented team,” Bellinger said. “Our whole lineup could all be All-Stars. I think that in the season there’s a lot of ups and downs, and we have a lot of experienced players in the locker room when we’re going through our downs.
“We know it’s going to happen. We just try to focus on the main things every day and stay as consistent as we can and just remember how good we are as a team and just continue to play like that even when things aren’t going our way.”
When Bellinger is looking for some summer treats away from the diamond, he’s been partnering with Dairy Queen and three other All-Stars to promote the All-Star Summer Blizzard Treat.
Bellinger has appeared in commercials and promotions with Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. to review the “official treat of the MLB.”
The Nestle Drumstick with Peanuts Blizzard Treat is Bellinger’s go-to although he has tried a little bit of everything.
“It’s pretty known that I love my sweets around the clubhouse, so when I had the opportunity to partner with them, I obviously said yes,” Bellinger said.
Bellinger flew all the way to Miami for some ice cream and once again reiterated how much he likes the drumsticks.
“I was a little full after the commercial, but it was a good time,” Bellinger said.
Jun 26, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger (35) hits a single against the Atlanta Braves in the first inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 23, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger (35) scores against Cincinnati Reds catcher Chris Okey (72) during the eighth inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 22, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger (35) catches a pop out hit by Cincinnati Reds left fielder Tommy Pham (not pictured) in the third inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger (35) argues with the umpire after a strikeout in the second inning of the MLB game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Los Angeles Dodgers in Cincinnati at Great American Ball Park on Tuesday, June 21, 2022.
Jun 18, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes (15) high fives center fielder Cody Bellinger (35) after defeating the Cleveland Guardians at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 17, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger (35) is congratulated by third base coach Dino Ebel (91) after hitting a solo home run in the second inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 10, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger (35) is unable to catch a solo home run by San Francisco Giants first baseman Darin Ruf (not pictured) during the eighth inning at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 2, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger (35) runs to third against the New York Mets during the second inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 4, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger (35) and left fielder Chris Taylor (3) and right fielder Mookie Betts (50) and second baseman Gavin Lux (9) react in the ninth inning against the New York Mets at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 3, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Zach McKinstry (8) celebrates as he crosses the plate after hitting a two-run home run scoring center fielder Cody Bellinger (35) in the fourth inning against the New York Mets at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports