LOS ANGELES – Adrian Gonzalez is ready to find out.
“It feels good,” the Dodgers first baseman said of the back injury that sent him to the DL. “I’m not playing in pain. But I haven’t been playing baseball games.”
Gonzalez hasn’t played a baseball game since June 11. Since then, he has two examinations on the herniated disc in his back, received an epidural injection to relieve the pain and gone through countless hours of physical therapy and core-strengthening exercises.
He will start playing games again next week. Gonzalez is scheduled to go through a simulated-game session before the Dodgers’ game on Sunday then joined Triple-A Oklahoma City to begin a minor-league injury-rehabilitation assignment next week while the Dodgers are on the road. The choice of Triple-A is partially “logistics-driven and travel, things like that, (but) a little bit the competition” as well, according to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
Gonzalez said he is planning to stay on rehab for the full 20 days allotted to position players as a way to fully test the back. He wants to play “four or five” games in a row or four in five days to see how his back responds.
In second place, 1 ½ games behind the Colorado Rockies, when Gonzalez went on the DL for the second time this season, the Dodgers have gone 34-6 in his absence, building a 13-game lead in the National League West and are 39-5 when Cody Bellinger starts at first base this season.
“It’s been great. It’s always great when the team is playing well,” Gonzalez said of watching it from the bench – an unfamiliar perspective for a player who played 1,745 of a possible 1,782 games over the past 11 seasons. “There’s no need to rush back when things are going so well. You don’t want to mess anything up. … When things are rolling you just sit back and enjoy the show.”
When he is ready to return, Gonzalez said “the hope” is he can add to what the Dodgers have going.
“That’s the plan,” he…