A brief demotion benefited Matt Beaty. Will Dodgers take same tack with Edwin Rios?

Los Angeles Dodgers' Matt Beaty watches an inside pitch during the second inning of a spring training baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds Tuesday, March 9, 2021, in Goodyear, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Utility player Matt Beaty is two for four with three walks and two hit-by-pitches since returning from a stint at the Dodgers' alternative training site in Phoenix. (Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

Matt Beaty was hitting .091 (one for 11) with six strikeouts and two walks in 10 games when the Dodgers utility player was demoted to the team’s alternate training site in Phoenix on April 17 to get more at-bats and regular playing time.

The corner outfielder/infielder returned on Saturday, and in four games since he is two for four with three walks and two hit-by-pitches, and he hit a clutch two-run single in the sixth inning of Tuesday night’s 6-5 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

“I feel pretty good up there, I feel comfortable again,” said Beaty, one of the few bright spots for a team that has lost three straight and seven of nine. “Going down to the alt site was good for me to get some at-bats, get some confidence, put some balls in play hard and get back to what I do as a baseball player.”

The Dodgers may have little choice but to take a similar tack with one of Beaty’s best friends on the team, reserve corner infielder Edwin Rios, who struck out in an eighth-inning pinch-hit appearance Tuesday night and is hitless in 24 at-bats dating back to April 13.

The left-handed-hitting Rios is batting .093 (four for 43) with one homer, one RBI, 15 strikeouts and six walks on the season.

“He’s scuffling,” manager Dave Roberts said when asked if Rios would benefit from a stint in Arizona. “We’ll continue to monitor all of these guys. I think the goal is to give these guys the best chance to have success, and if a player is not having success and needs to find their way, we can have those discussions.”

With third baseman Justin Turner limited by injuries to 42 games in the pandemic-shortened 60-game season last year, Rios was a capable fill-in, batting .250 with a .946 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, eight homers and 17 RBIs in 32 games. He hit .277 with a 1.010 OPS, four homers and eight RBIs in 28 games in 2019.

Roberts said after Monday night’s loss, in which Rios went 0 for three with two strikeouts, that he is “more of the mind to continue to instill confidence” in Rios rather than demote him. Beaty believes Rios is one good swing, one line drive, one hard-hit ball to the gap away from snapping out of his slump.

“That’s my guy — he’ll be all right,” Beaty said. “That guy can hit. He’s one of the best hitters on this team, and once he gets going, he’s going to be dangerous. We’ve seen what he can do, and we all have confidence in him. He needs to believe in himself.

Edwin Rios tosses the ball
Dodgers third baseman Edwin Rios throws out the Cincinnati Reds' Tucker Barnhart on Monday at Dodger Stadium. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

“Once he gets that first knock, gets on base, hits the ball hard somewhere, it’s gonna be game-on, and it’s gonna be fun to watch. We all believe in Eddie and what he can do at the plate and how big of a threat he can be in the box.”

But struggling players often need to take one step back before they can take two steps forward. Consistent at-bats in a stress-free environment at the alternate site could be as much of a confidence boost for Rios, 27, as it was for Beaty, whose two-run single to right field gave the Dodgers a 5-3 lead Tuesday night.

“With Matt, we were at a point where we didn’t have consistent at-bats for him, and he didn’t look comfortable in the box, so to buy into us sending him to the alt site, to take at-bats over [seven] days, to kind of reset, certainly proved beneficial,” Roberts said. “He looks like a different hitter right now.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.