The presumed National League Rookie of the Year caused a scare when spraining his right ankle against the Tigers when he appeared to make a routine catch in the outfield. A collective sigh of relief could be heard throughout the Dodgers organization, and all of Los Angeles for that matter, when Dave Roberts announced that Cody would be back as the starting first basemen. Bellinger himself proclaimed that he was 100%. So what do we have to worry about?
It was curious, watching the injury as it happened. All he did was push off the right foot to leap and make a routine fly-ball catch. He stated that he hit a “softspot” in the dirt and “rolled” his ankle. But looking at video footage, this did not seem to be the case.
I went back and started at the basics. I watched video of him stretching, warming up, running. Yes, there were some inadequacies with strength and pelvic stability. But then I watched his swing. That great swing which has brought him to both an all star and home run derby appearance in his first year in the pros. It has been compared to Ken Griffey Jr. and looks so smooth and efficient. A symphony of bio-mechanics. Except for one oddity. Most hitters use hip and pelvis rotation to transfer power from the legs, through the trunk and into the bat. If you watch Cody hit, you will see something different. He does rotate his pelvis and trunk when swinging, but limits his hip rotation on the right. So where does he pick up that lost movement. In the last place you would look (if not for this injury): in the ankle. Every time Bellinger swings for the fences, watch his ankle. He basically “rolls” his ankle every time he hits for power. No wonder all it took for him to roll his ankle was a “soft spot” in the dirt. Or at least that is how he perceived it.
At the end of the day: It is hard to tell one of the best hitters in baseball to alter his symphonious swing. But at this pace, the next thing to give is his hip or knee.
The Injury Analyst is a blog dedicated to not only explaining injuries that have occurred, but predicting and highlighting future injury risks for professional athletes. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: I have not seen the subject of this article personally in clinic, rather all views and opinions of the author have been made based off of video footage of the athlete. This article is not meant as a diagnosis or a treatment plan.