Adrian aiming to hone pinch-hitting skills

Dodgers vet likely to come off bench if he's on postseason roster

Adrian aiming to hone pinch-hitting skills

WASHINGTON -- Adrian Gonzalez asked Dodgers manager Dave Roberts for more pinch-hitting opportunities, as that would be his most likely role if he makes a postseason roster.

"I talked to him about starting tonight, but he said he'd rather come off the bench and practice that role," Roberts said of Gonzalez, who is 7-for-15 against the Nationals' Sunday night starter Stephen Strasburg. Gonzalez pinch-hit in the ninth, grounding out in a 7-1 Dodgers loss.

"If you look forward, to what he can potentially do to help us, it's off the bench. To give him those opportunities, to see how he can prepare and navigate an at-bat, I think that gives him the best chance of success."

Gonzalez, like Andre Ethier, is making a game attempt to play through the discomfort of a herniated disk in his back and win a roster spot for the postseason, as Ethier did a year ago after missing most of the season with a broken leg. The club is limited with Gonzalez, because his only defensive position is first base, where Cody Bellinger has taken over.

Gonzalez, 35 with one year left on his contract, came off the disabled list Aug. 18. He returned to start eight consecutive games (with Bellinger moving to the outfield), but hasn't started on consecutive days since and has already needed an epidural injection for continued pain. His last start was Monday night in San Francisco. On Saturday, he grounded into a double-play pinch-hitting.

He is 4-for-8 as a pinch-hitter this season with two RBIs and is 10-for-44 (.227) with one home run and five RBIs in his career as a pinch-hitter.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.