Cody Bellinger bashed a home run in the World Series opener, and celebrated with his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates.
Foot taps — not forearm knocks. Much easier on his delicate right shoulder that popped out of its socket during a home run celebration in Game 7 of the NL Championship Series.
“I think I’ll continue to do that, maybe my whole career,” he joked.
Bellinger’s two-run shotgave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning and they went on to an 8-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night.
“I tried to get the run in and stayed simple with it,” Bellinger said.
After rounding the bases, too.
Instead of jumping up and banging elbows, a grinning Bellinger ran up to teammate Max Muncy and exchanged foot taps before making his way down a line of Dodgers doing the same thing.
“Hahaha!! Leg tap celebrations for him,” Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James tweeted.
Bellinger and Mookie Betts traded taps with their right feet as Justin Turner laughed, Will Smith clapped and manager Dave Roberts appeared to be smiling behind his face mask.
“I said it today before the game: `If I hit one, I’m not touching anybody’s arm,'” Bellinger said. “I’m going straight foot and it was pretty funny.”
There had been concern about Bellinger’s shoulder after the Dodgers wrapped up the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves. He said it felt sore going into the World Series, and his shoulder took another hit in the seventh when he crashed into the center-field wall trying unsuccessfully to corral Joey Wendle’s double.
“It was one of the first times I tested it. I was like, ‘OK, I’m fine,’” Bellinger said. “Mookie (Betts) and CT (Chris Taylor) are like, `Now you know.’ I had an opportunity to show I’m all right.”
Bellinger leaped, reached high with his right arm and banged into the fence grabbing Austin Meadows’ long fly leading off the ninth. On the mound, reliever Joe Kelly pointed to his right shoulder while looking back at a smiling Bellinger.
The 2019 NL MVP is finding his stroke just in time to help the Dodgers try to end a World Series championship drought that dates to 1988.
Bellinger entered 5 for 44 (.114) in 12 career World Series games, with 23 strikeouts. He had struggled during the shortened 60-game regular season, hitting .239 with 12 home runs, 30 RBIs and 42 strikeouts.
But he launched his fourth homer of the postseason with a 378-foot shot that landed in the Dodgers’ bullpen in right-center at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.
Bellinger’s shot sparked the Dodgers’ offense. They tacked on four runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth.
“We’re having fun,” Bellinger said. “We know how challenging it is. To put extra pressure on yourself is just not the way to do it.”
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports