GLENDALE, Ariz. — Miguel Vargas’ spring took an unexpected hop.
The Dodgers’ prospect was hit in the pinkie finger on his right hand by a ground ball while doing defensive work. A scan revealed a hairline fracture.
The injury is not considered serious and Vargas was still catching and throwing in the outfield during Monday’s workout. He will not swing a bat for a few days, however. When he returns to swinging will depend on his pain tolerance.
“First time I’m on the, I don’t know, DL or anything. So it was weird for me.” Vargas said after Monday’s workout.
“Yeah, it’s never happened to me and it’s the first time I’m on the DL. I can’t swing so that’s why I call it going on the DL.”
Vargas said he has continued taking ground balls and he was able to throw during the workout but “when I feel the vibration of the bat, it makes it hurt a little but everything else is OK.”
The 23-year-old Vargas is expected to break camp with the Dodgers as their everyday second baseman this season, a position he has only limited experience at playing. Vargas has been working with Placido Polanco, a special assistant in the front office who won three Gold Gloves as a player (two as a second baseman).
Vargas made his big-league debut last season, going 8 for 47 (.170) in limited action.
Monday’s workout was preceded by the first full-squad meeting of the spring and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts’ address to the team focused on the choices that were made by many of the players in the room to be Dodgers.
“The main takeaway for me was just letting the guys know that there were a lot of people, players that made a decision to sacrifice money, geography, to play for the Dodgers – from Clayton (Kershaw) to JD (Martinez) to David Peralta to Jason Heyward,” Roberts said. “I think that that speaks to what we have here with the Dodgers. So it’s a message to those guys, and it’s also a message to the guys that have been here, knowing that we have something pretty special.”
Heyward and Peralta were among those Roberts asked to address the team. The 33-year-old Heyward spoke about “the honor and privilege” of being in an organization with high expectations.
“I just said expectation is a beautiful thing about somewhere like here,” Heyward said. “Every year you expect to win, you expect to win a World Series. The track record has shown that. The front office has made business moves that have shown that. And a year like this one, you see, I feel like, more under-the-radar moves, so to speak. Still some big signings, in my opinion, as far as completing a team and balancing out a team that is really polished and adding to that.”
Heyward’s time in Chicago ended at the opposite end of that spectrum. Over the past two seasons, he watched as the core of the Cubs’ 2016 championship team was traded away or left via free agency.
Last August, the Cubs told him he was not part of their plans and eventually released him before the final season of his eight-year, $184 million contract. He signed a minor-league deal with the Dodgers as a free agent.
“The toughest part was just not expecting to win when you come to the field,” he said of his last two seasons in Chicago. “I have so much respect for guys who come out and have great careers or not. Either way, guys have to show up on teams every day that are not expected to win and not going to the postseason. That’s not easy. That was the toughest part ending there.”
A number of rules changes including larger bases, a pitch clock and limitations on how many pickoff attempts pitchers can make are expected to boost the stolen base as a more prominent part of the game this season.
Roberts estimated there will be a “10 to 15 percent” increase in attempts in 2023 with a higher success rate as well.
“I think the industry is going to run more,” he said. “You still have to have players who can do it. You don’t want to give up outs on the bases. But I do think the success rate is going to be, call it, 7 to 10 percent higher than it was in years past. I think that’s a fair guess-timate.”
Roberts said Gavin Lux and Vargas could benefit the most on the Dodgers based on “just pure foot speed.”
“So I think that those two guys, we’re going to challenge those guys to kind of be a little bit more proactive on running,” Roberts said.