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‘Funk’ leads to more time off for Dodgers’ Will Smith

‘Funk’ leads to more time off for Dodgers’ Will Smith

CHICAGO — The schedule has eased up on the Dodgers this week, offering them three off days in an eight-day span (through Monday).

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has given catcher Will Smith three more – last Wednesday in Colorado, Friday at home against the Angels and again Wednesday night in Chicago. Roberts at first characterized it as ‘load management’ for the team’s primary catcher but acknowledged Wednesday that there was more behind the down time now.

“I just don’t think he’s swinging the bat, certainly like he’s capable of. I think he’s in a little funk,” Roberts said. “There’s some balls that are hit hard. But there’s also some pitches that I feel that when he’s right, he makes a better move.

“He feels good. So it’s not a physical thing. Certainly with Will, it’s not a mental thing. He’s as mentally tough as they come. So that leads to the mechanical part. So my thought was you could take today and work through some things mechanically. We have a night game, so there’s more time to do that. We have an off day. … It’s a long season. I don’t expect him to be great or perfect all year.”

Smith has indeed slipped into a funk with a .172 average in June, just three hits in 38 at-bats (.079) over his past 10 games and just one hit in his past 16 at-bats.

He had a similar downturn in midseason last year as well. Over a 30-game stretch from late May into July, Smith batted just .208. He later admitted he was playing with a cracked rib.

He said there is nothing like that going on now – honest.

“I promise there is nothing hurt on my body,” he said with a smile when reminded of his silence regarding the rib injury for most of that time last year.

This is just one of those down times that come during a long season, he said.

“Yeah, I feel a little off. I think any time you’re not getting hits you do,” Smith said. “But I still feel like I’m hitting the ball, maybe swing-and-miss a little more but that happens. I’m still squaring the ball up for the most part but nothing’s falling. Not getting any of the dink hits that keep you above water.

“It’s just one of those times. That’s baseball. We’re always working on our swings, trying to get better. Just grinding along.”


Shohei Ohtani hit his National League-leading 25th home run of the season Wednesday night – his eighth in the past 10 games and fifth in the past six.

He was asked by Japanese reporters following Tuesday’s game whether he would participate in this year’s Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game in Arlington, Texas.

“I don’t know about the Home Run Derby at this time,” Ohtani said in Japanese. “First of all, I haven’t been invited so I think it starts there. I’m rehabbing (from elbow surgery last fall) so I would need to get clearance from the doctor, the trainers and the team.

“Of course, there’s a feeling that I want to participate. I think any player feels the same way. So it depends on all the other factors.”

Ohtani has participated in the Home Run Derby just once – in 2021 at Coors Field in Denver. Roberts said he has no objections if Ohtani wants to participate this year.

“I think on one side of it for him, for him be in the Home Run Derby, it’s great for baseball clearly,” Roberts said. “And the other side of it – the manager of the Dodgers side of it – you’re trying to be more cautious and appreciating the fact that there’s a lot more swings, higher intensity, going through the rehab process with his elbow.

“But for me personally, it’s just defaulting to the player and supporting Shohei in whatever he chooses.”


Ohtani has advanced in his throwing program to throwing from 90 feet now. He is still only making about 60 throws every other day. The Dodgers have said he will not pitch again until the 2025 season.


The Dodgers are off Thursday.

Dodgers (RHP Landon Knack, 1-1, 2.10 ERA) at Giants (TBA), Friday, 7:15 p.m., SportsNet LA, 570 AM


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