LOS ANGELES — Gavin Lux has his own YouTube channel. But there are still some things he would like to keep private.
One of several Dodgers who were unavailable to participate in the first handful of Summer Camp workouts, the Dodgers rookie would not answer questions about the reasons for that delay, saying it was “private information.” Of those late arrivals, only closer Kenley Jansen has acknowledged he tested positive for COVID-19.
In Lux’s case, he returned to his home in Wisconsin after MLB shut down spring training in mid-March and then had to travel to Los Angeles and pass intake testing before being cleared to join the team.
“I think everyone has to go through their options of wearing a mask when you’re not on the field if you’re a player. Keep washing your hands, social distancing, making the right decisions — I think it’s pretty basic at this point what everyone’s got to do at this point to make this work. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” Lux said of the health and safety protocols put in place this season.
“It’s just let’s play baseball. For me personally, you know, I don’t have any underlying health issues or anything like that. I live on my own, so there’s no risk for me giving it to somebody who’s at risk at home.”
While he was home waiting for baseball to get going again, Lux said he was able to work out with some Milwaukee Brewers who were in the area and other players from the Chicago area. His uncle, Augie Schmidt (the No. 2 overall pick in the 1982 draft and now a college coach), was there to throw batting practice.
“I was getting a lot of live at-bats all quarantine so I’m not worried about at-bats at all,” Lux said.
“I think I took a couple days off when we first canceled spring training just to travel and stuff. Then I was pretty much working out right away and getting everything baseball-wise I needed to do to feel like I was ready to get better. So yeah, I feel like I’m ready to go. I showed up ready to go.”
A year ago at this time, Lux was in the middle of a red-hot stretch that saw him tear up Triple-A pitching. He hit .435 in July (split between Double-A and Triple-A) with a 1.355 OPS and wound up making his big-league debut in September. Things didn’t go as well after that. He batted .240 in 23 games with the Dodgers (including just 1 for 12 against left-handed pitching) and went 2 for 9 in the National League Division Series loss to the Nationals.
“You just gotta be comfortable,” Lux said of what he learned from his big-league baptism. “For me, I think getting up here I just wasn’t as comfortable as I was maybe in the minor leagues. So for me it was just, let’s be as confident as possible and go out there, not have any doubts and let’s go play.
“I think that’s the biggest thing and not getting sped up in the batter’s box. … I think those two things are obviously very important as far as lessons I learned.”
At 22, he enters the abbreviated 2020 season as an early frontrunner to win the NL Rookie of the Year award.
“You know, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t (a goal), but it’s not number one,” he said.
“I would rather win a World Series than win a rookie year. For me, that’s the main goal — trying to win games, and any statistic or accolades or anything that’s secondary.”
IN THIS TOGETHER
The Dodgers released a video on social media that featured nine players (including Clayton Kershaw, Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, Lux and others) pledging their support of efforts to address “racism, inequality and justice.”
“Silence is no longer an option,” Kershaw says, ending with “we must unapologetically say Black lives matter.”
The players wore T-shirts with the motto “In This Together” for Thursday’s workout. Those shirts are available for purchase at Dodgers.com/Together with the proceeds going to the California Funders for Boys & Men of Color Southern California. The players have pledged to match the funds raised.
“I’m proud of them. I’m proud to be a part of this,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I think Clayton and some other guys spearheaded this. They’ve been very intentional. They’ve been shaken. And so for them to not only talk the talk but walk the walk and lead by their actions it’s very commendable.”
In the midst of the protest movement sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, Kershaw released a statement (on Juneteenth) pledging his commitment to “affecting change — starting with myself.”
“I want to listen, I want to learn, I want to do better and be different,” Kershaw wrote at the time. “I want my kids to be different.”
According to the Dodgers, Kershaw, Joc Pederson, Ross Stripling and Turner participated in a “listening session” with community leaders earlier this week.
“It’s just accepting the responsibility for things we can change as a white guy,” Kershaw said at the start of camp. “A lot of things that have come to light in the past few weeks and months has been enlightening to me honestly — being naive about some of the things that have gone on with our Black community and things like that.
“I think it was important for me to take accountability for the things that I can do and take action for it. I’ve made some statements, I’ve done some things in the media. Now it’s time to work on the action part of that. That’s what myself and the Dodgers and my teammates are working on, to try to figure out the best way to bring those words to action.”
The Dodgers placed catcher Keibert Ruiz on the 10-day injured list. Ruiz is the only player on the 40-man roster who has not reported to camp. (David Price opted out of playing this season.) The Dodgers have given no reason for Ruiz’s absence.
In addition, outfielder Terrance Gore was in uniform for Thursday night’s intrasquad game. Earlier this week, Roberts said the team was considering adding Gore as a pinch-running threat with rosters expanded to 30 for the first two weeks of the regular season and 28 for the next two weeks.
Roberts said Walker Buehler is scheduled to pitch two innings during Friday’s intrasquad game. Buehler has been behind the Dodgers’ other starting pitchers and this would be his first action in an intrasquad game.