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