This past weekend, Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger played in New York for the first time as a big leaguer. During the three-game sweep of the Mets at Citi Field, Bellinger, 22, was 2-for-12. Both of his hits were mammoth home runs.
It's not the first time Bellinger has visited the Big Apple. As a youngster, he was often in the Yankee Stadium clubhouse hanging out with his father, Clay, who was a bench player on the Yankees teams that won World Series titles in 1999 and 2000.
Cody was 4 years old when he first set foot in the House That Ruth Built. During that period, Derek Jeter was his favorite player and he was close to Andy Pettitte's son, Josh.
"I wished I remembered a little more, but I remember the World Series parades. It was a special time, especially being in New York," Bellinger said in the upcoming podcast "Newsmakers."
Bellinger is having a special time this season. As he put it, he is having a blast. Bellinger is a big reason the Dodgers' 79-32 record is the best in baseball. Since his contract was selected from Triple-A Oklahoma City on April 25, Bellinger leads the Major Leagues in home runs and ranks third in RBIs. His six multi-homer games are the most by a rookie in Dodgers history.
Bellinger has hit 16 home runs in the seventh inning or later, tying Frank Robinson's modern-era rookie record (since 1900).
"Sometimes, there is not a lot of pressure, so you can relax. Sometimes, the game is on the line and you focus a little more," Bellinger said.
The 16th homer in the seventh frame or later came Sunday against Mets left-hander Josh Smoker in the eighth inning. According to Statcast™, it was his furthest home run to date. The exit velocity was 105.2 miles an hour, while the ball traveled a season-high 447 feet.
"I felt good [in that at-bat]. I didn't even feel it. It must have felt good," Bellinger said.
If Bellinger keeps this up, he is a shoe-in to win the Jackie Robinson Award for best rookie in the National League. He could become the 18th player in franchise history to win the award.
"The way the season started, it looked like Bellinger wasn't going to win anything," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. "He was unproductive during Spring Training and started the season with Triple-A Oklahoma City. He didn't enter the big show until the end of April. Bellinger made adjustments to his stance. He stood a little more upright and he said that has made a big difference in his production.
"His at-bat quality is very consistent … he is a baseball player. Whatever it takes to help us win a baseball game, he does it. He is not afraid. So being a young player here on a contending team, he fits right in. There is a lot of confidence there."
Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002 and does a podcast, Newsmakers. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.