In an unknown location, Gavin Lux looks as comfortable as ever | by Rowan Kavner | Sep 2021
“We can sit here and say there’s no pressure and no performance is on my mind – we can sit here and say whatever we want – but overall we are a lot more relaxed and cut off my brain and once the game starts it’s just competing, competing, competing, that’s really been my whole thinking process throughout it all, ”Lux said. “I think it allowed me to stay relaxed and not worry about the results.”
Being sent down also gave Lux some thought. He compared how he felt this year to his most productive seasons – years like 2019, when he was Minor League Baseball America’s Player of the Year – and realized how much more his wit was. clear.
Now when the game starts he tries to stop all thought about the mechanical adjustments he is making and focus on how the opposing pitcher might attack him. In his first two weeks with the club, Lux was tied for the team lead in hits despite the sixth-highest number of home plate appearances.
He became the catalyst sought by the Dodgers.
“We needed a ton of it,” said Roberts. “He’s in a good position mechanically, and I would especially say his approach with each pitcher, working with the hitters, is very solid and very consistent. I’m just proud of how he had to go through adversity and play baseball as well as I’ve seen him play.
Surprisingly, Lux’s offensive comfort has increased while occupying an unknown position. Each of his first 10 return games came in left field.
Lux’s stint in the minor leagues, along with advice from a former MVP who made a similar transition, has helped him prepare for the opportunity. Mookie Betts moved from infield to outfield in 2014, and he wanted to help guide Lux through all the growing pains.
While in left field, this was an adjustment for Lux to read the swings from a further distance, including the left-handed slice in the corner and judging baseball’s top spin. But Lux described himself as more comfortable ‘day and night’ on the spot after just a week.
The best advice he received from Betts was not to hesitate. Play aggressive.
“A coach can talk to a player, but I always think hearing it from a teammate, especially Mookie’s caliber, lands more,” said Roberts.
Another change is looming for Lux.
On September 23, he received his first Major League reps in the middle of the field while Cody Bellinger was sidelined with a rib injury. The idea prevailed that the position could be easier since Lux was more used to reading in the middle of the field.
A night later, Lux – who has the second-fastest average sprint speed on the Dodgers this year – found a ball on the warning track in Arizona to save a run and start a late-inning double play in a 4-2 victory that included a number of notable defensive plays in the outfield.
“He’s such an athlete,” Pollock said. “He doesn’t think about it too much. You see him chasing that ball, there’s really nothing too technical. He sees the ball, he has speed and he goes for it.
What Lux’s successful, perhaps temporary, transition means for his defensive future remains to be seen.
The Dodgers have always viewed him as an intermediate fielder and still see him capable of taking on that responsibility for the long haul. But he found an unforeseen way to add to his versatility, improve his club and potentially work in the October mix.
This likely means a longer wait for Reks’ glove to return to its owner.
“Gavin is still at the start of his career,” said Roberts. “But I think seeing it makes us appreciate it even more.”