MILWAUKEE — For the first time in his life, Gavin Lux is watching a lot of baseball. Just watching.
“I think that’s the hard part,” the injured infielder said of being sidelined following his season-ending spring knee injury. “Obviously I want to be out there. It doesn’t suck watching – but it kind of sucks because you want to be out there playing but you can’t. So it’s almost like torture a little bit. But being able to offer some support, talk to guys about their at-bats – to be engaged, keep your baseball mind working, I’ve still got to do it.”
Lux had knee surgery to repair tears of the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments plus other damage just about two months ago. The rehabilitation has been slow and tedious – as expected – with few milestones at this stage of the process. He was able to discard crutches after the first few weeks and is now walking without a brace (or a limp).
“You try to find the wins every day,” Lux said. “There aren’t many of them.”
The next milestones will be running on an AlterG treadmill that carries some of the runner’s body weight, gradually decreasing the assistance. That should come before the end of June. By mid-July, Lux hopes to be running without assistance and starting to hit off a tee. He will move his rehab to Camelback Ranch at that point.
The Wisconsin native joined the Dodgers for the series in Milwaukee after celebrating his girlfriend graduating with a master’s degree – ironically, in sports medicine. On their last homestand, Lux was allowed to be in the dugout for games (once he was off crutches).
From that vantage point, he has watched four players start at the position that was supposed to be his – including a Gold Glove outfielder.
“It’s pretty cool seeing how well he can play shortstop. It’s incredible,” Lux said of Mookie Betts, who has made four starts at shortstop. “I don’t know if the average fan understands how hard it is to go from right field and play shortstop – in the major leagues. I mean, I had a hard time going from shortstop to second base. People don’t realize how hard it is. It’s really crazy.”
In the days after his injury, Lux held out hope that he might be able to return before the end of this season. It was a way to motivate himself to attack the months of rehab.
He knows now that is not realistic.
“After talking to Dr. (Neal) ElAttrache – if it were a straight ACL there would have been a chance. But with the lateral side and the hamstring stuff too, it’s just not realistic,” Lux said Tuesday. “I kind of knew with the LCL stuff. Obviously, I’m still going to go through my PT stuff every day and try to get back this year. But, no, it’s not going to be an option.
“I’ve kind of accepted that. At the same time, it’s kind of a silver lining because you’ve got the whole offseason to kind of build into it and be ready for spring training. But, yeah, it sucks. A whole year wiped out.”
While in Milwaukee, the Dodgers are staying at a local hotel known for stories of being haunted. But not Betts.
Betts is staying with some friends who rented an Airbnb for the series “just in case” the ghost stories are true.
“It was a good excuse (not to stay there),” Betts said.
Betts said he doesn’t necessarily believe in ghosts. But he doesn’t want to find out the hard way that he’s wrong.
“You can tell me what happened after,” he said. “I just don’t want to find out myself.”
The Milwaukee hotel is one of two ‘haunted’ hotels that many MLB teams use. The other is in St. Petersburg, Florida, where the Dodgers will play the Tampa Bay Rays later this season. Betts said he has stayed at both before and never experienced anything out of the paranormal.
“But I couldn’t sleep,” Betts said. “Every noise, I’d be like, ‘Is that something?’”
As expected, the Dodgers placed left-hander Caleb Ferguson on the paternity list Tuesday. Ferguson is in Los Angeles, where his wife is expected to give birth to a son.
Ferguson is the fifth Dodger to go on paternity leave in the past three weeks.
In his place, left-hander Justin Bruihl was recalled. Bruihl has made five appearances for the Dodgers this season, allowing one run on four hits in five innings.
J.D. Martinez took at-bats against rehabbing right-hander Michael Grove at the Dodgers’ complex in Glendale, Arizona on Tuesday. Martinez (back) is on track to rejoin the Dodgers this weekend. Grove (groin) and Ryan Pepiot (oblique) are throwing to hitters at Camelback Ranch but are not ready to start rehab assignments, according to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
Dodgers (LHP Clayton Kershaw, 5-2, 2.53 ERA) at Brewers (LHP Wade Miley, 3-1, 2.31 ERA), Wednesday, 10:40 a.m., SportsNet LA, MLB Network, 570 AM
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