L.A. rookie doesn’t feel like a loser

Schebler gets a hit in ma­jor league de­but, but his stay prob­a­bly won’t be long.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Dy­lan Her­nan­dez

Scott Schebler re­hearsed for an in­ter­view like this more times than he could re­mem­ber.

Only now that he was ac­tu­ally here at Dodger Sta­dium, with all th­ese note­books and au­dio recorders around him, he couldn’t re­call what he had planned to say on his first day as a ma­jor league base­ball player.

“I prob­a­bly had an an­swer a long time ago, but now I don’t,” the 24-year-old out­fielder said with a ner­vous laugh.

For most of the Dodgers, their 2-1 de­feat to the St. Louis Car­di­nals on Fri­day was only one of 162 games they will play this sea­son. For Schebler, it was a oncein-a-life­time ex­pe­ri­ence.

Schebler started in left field and sin­gled in his first at-bat. “Un­real,” he said. Schebler knows his time with the Dodgers could be short. When talk­ing about

how his par­ents were sched­uled to fly to Los An­ge­les the next day, he said, “Hope­fully, I’ll be here.”

If Yasiel Puig is ac­ti­vated from the dis­abled list Satur­day, Schebler could be on his way back to triple-A Ok­la­homa City.

Play­ing in the sec­ond game of a mi­nor league re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion as­sign­ment, Puig hit a home run for Class-A Ran­cho Cu­ca­monga in Lan­caster.

Puig posted on his Instagram ac­count be­fore the game: “Last day in lan­caster. Ready for LA to­mor­row”

Manager Don Mat­tingly ac­knowl­edged the pos­si­bil­ity.

“Things he’s been able to do are very en­cour­ag­ing,” Mat­tingly said.

Mat­tingly was also en- couraged by the med­i­cal up­date he re­ceived on Howie Ken­drick, say­ing he was con­fi­dent the sec­ond base­man would avoid the dis­abled list.

Ken­drick missed his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive game with a sore right knee but said his knee felt con­sid­er­ably bet­ter than it did the pre­vi­ous day.

“Hope­fully, it’s just a cou­ple days,” Ken­drick said. “We’ll see.”

With Ken­drick un­avail­able in the se­ries opener Thurs­day night, the Dodgers played with a three-man bench. Rather than do that again, they called up Schebler and op­tioned left­hander Daniel Coulombe to triple A.

Man­age­ment’s de­ci­sion pre­sented Schebler with the op­por­tu­nity to play against the team he cheered on in his youth from his home state of Iowa. His fa­vorite play­ers were Mark McGwire and Al­bert Pu­jols.

McGwire is now the Dodgers’ hit­ting coach and Schebler was able to work with him dur­ing spring train­ing.

“Some­times, you have to pinch your­self a lit­tle bit,” Schebler said. “He’s been awe­some. He comes over to me and talks to me. I’m kind of a shy guy at heart, so for him to do that for me is awe­some.”

Schebler re­called how McGwire of­ten au­to­graphed base­balls and tossed them into the stands in spring train­ing. One day, Schebler said, McGwire dropped one of the balls in the Dodgers dugout.

“I snatched it,” Schebler said with a smile. “He doesn’t even know I have his au­to­graph.”

A for­mer 26th-round pick, Schebler was the Dodgers’ mi­nor league player of the year in 2013, when he bat­ted .296 with 27 home runs and 91 runs bat­ted in for Ran­cho Cu­ca­monga.

Last year, he hit 28 home runs in dou­ble A.

The mo­men­tum didn’t trans­fer to this sea­son. Through 49 games in triple A, Schebler was bat­ting only .216 with six home runs and 15 RBIs.

“I hate us­ing ex­cuses, but the ball­park we play in down there is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent than most,” he said. “It’s not re­ally hit­ter-friendly. I let that start get­ting to my con­fi­dence. I started tweak­ing with stuff and all of a sud­den you’re in a slump.”

When Schebler told his mother early Fri­day morn­ing that he was head­ing to Los An­ge­les, she asked him, “For what?” Schebler laughed. “It sur­prised me as much as her,” he said. “I’m just ec­static to be here.”

Stephen Dunn Getty Images

THE CAR­DI­NALS’ Pete Kozma beats the throw to Dodgers sec­ond base­man Enrique Her­nan­dez on Ja­son Hey­ward’s in­field sin­gle in the eighth in­ning.

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