SAN DIEGO – Jerry Seinfeld and Mike Piazza were both big in the ‘90s. Cody Bellinger has heard of one of them. “I heard of Piazza. I know about him,” laughed Bellinger who couldn’t identify Seinfeld during a TV interview earlier this season. “A great player, a great catcher. I’ve only heard good things about him.”
Now, he has matched one piece of Piazza’s Los Angeles legacy. Bellinger led off the fourth inning of Saturday’s first game with a solo home run. It was his 35th of the season, matching Piazza’s Dodgers rookie record from 1993. It was another milestone Bellinger said he “couldn’t imagine doing” before making his major league debut on April 25 — but one that occupied his thoughts once he realized how close he was.
“Obviously he was a great player, had a great career. So to be in the same sentence with him is pretty cool,” Bellinger said.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t in the back of my mind.”
Saturday’s record-tying home run was Bellinger’s first since Aug. 12, a stretch that included a 10-day timeout on the DL after spraining his right ankle on Aug. 19. Bellinger had just two hits in his first 13 at-bats after returning on Wednesday and admitted he was still trying to get back in touch with his swing.
“A little bit. I think (when) you take a couple days off your swing is going to be off a little bit,” he said. “I think it takes 15, 20 at-bats to feel comfortable again.
“We’ll see (if that adjustment period is over). You might feel good one at-bat and the next one you’re not. That’s just baseball.”
Bellinger has already defied a lot of baseball logic with his precocious power display this season. His 35th home run came in his 105th career game. Only Mark McGwire hit more home runs (39) in the first 105 games of his career.
Bellinger has 28 games to match Wally Berger (1930) and Frank Robinson (1956) who share the National League record for home runs by a rookie, 38.
By Bill Plunkett