Dodgers’ Bellinger makes hometown debut

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Cody Bellinger’s rookie season is one not even the best screen writer’s in Hollywood could write up and it’s a story not even his high school self could have ever imagined.

In the halls of Hamilton High School is a photo of 18-year-old Bellinger as an All-Arizona Baseball infielder, a high school star only dreaming of the big leagues.

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“If I told him what I was going to do, I’d probably call him crazy,” Bellinger said. “I walk past that (photo) every time I go back to Hamilton, so it’s a cool reminder to see where I was at.”

As a senior at Hamilton, Bellinger stood at 6’3” 165 pounds when he first played at Chase Field with the Huskies. On Tuesday, standing at 6’4” and 210 pounds, Bellinger returned to the ballpark for the first time as a Dodger.

“It should be fun,” Bellinger said of being in front of his hometown crowd. “Hopefully I get a hit.”

During his second at-bat on Tuesday, Bellinger doubled off the left-field wall.

In the three months and 15 days that he has been with the big league club, Bellinger has been named National League Player of the Week and Rookie of the Month twice. He was a 2017 National League All-Star and was a semi-finalist in the 2017 Home Run Derby.

He is one of 28 rookies in MLB history to exceed 30 home runs and is a part of a Dodgers’ team poised to make baseball history.

The sensational season Bellinger has had thus far is not only surprising to him, but to his family as well.

“He’s kind of looking at himself thinking ‘Wow, I had no idea I could do all of this,’” Jenn Bellinger, Cody’s mother told Brad Cesmat on Tuesday morning. “You talk to the organizational heads, like Logan White, he drafted Cody, he even said, ‘Yeah, I saw him being good, but not this good.’”

Since his MLB debut on April 24, Bellinger has established himself as one of the league’s best power hitters with 32 home runs as of Aug. 8.

In high school, Bellinger was a gap hitter, Hamilton baseball head coach Mike Woods told Sports360AZ in April.

The change in his approach at the plate over the last four years comes from adjusting his mechanics, but also just from maturing and “growing into my body,” Bellinger said.

“In high school I was really, really small,” Bellinger said. “Those balls I was hitting in the gap, they’re now going over the fence.”

The spotlight that Bellinger has found himself under as a result of his success has been manageable thanks to his teammates keeping him grounded.

“The Utley’s and the Gonzalez’s and the Justin Turner’s in this clubhouse kind of help me handle everything,” Bellinger said. “If I’m getting off track, they put me right back on track.”

With around two months of the regular season left, there’s still a few more chapters of Bellinger’s improbable rookie season to be told.