May 24, 2024

Back in the spring, Gavin Lux’s biggest problem was throwing the ball.

Then the regular season started, and the Dodgers’ once highly touted infielder suddenly looked unable to hit.

A month into his return from missing 2023 with a knee injury, Lux arrived at Nationals Park this week with just nine hits in 19 games, a .148 batting average that ranked 10th-worst in the majors among hitters with 50 at-bats, and a seemingly dwindling amount of time to reaffirm his place as a core member of the team.

Manager Dave Roberts hadn’t lost faith in Lux, the former first-round draft pick who underwent knee ligament surgery last March after a spring training injury.

“My encouragement [to him] is just to continue to take good at-bats,” Roberts said, “and the results will come.”

But Lux’s own self-belief seemed to be wavering, after his defensive struggles in camp this year cost him his starting shortstop spot, and his poor start at the plate raised questions about his role as the regular second baseman near the bottom of the lineup.

In an 11-2 Dodgers win over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night, however, Lux’s fortunes ever-so-slightly started to turn.

In his first two-hit game since the opening week of the season, Lux scored in the second inning after going the other way for a single to left. He drove in two runs by pulling a ground ball through the infield in the fifth. And for the first time in weeks, he looked more like the steady contributor he had been before his injury in 2022, coupling his improved defense at second (where he has yet to commit an error this year) with his once-signature ability to hit the ball to all parts of the field.

Lux wasn’t the only Dodgers player to shine on a night Will Smith and Mookie Betts each had four hits, Shohei Ohtani collected three doubles to remain MLB’s leader in batting average (.371), slugging percentage (.695) and OPS (1.128), and Andy Pages hit his second home run of his debut week in the big leagues.

A quality six-inning, two-run start from rookie Landon Knack also aided the cause.

Lux’s breakthrough, though, might have been the biggest big-picture development, giving the club’s former top prospect and key bottom-of-the-order presence a needed boost of confidence after a dreadful start to the year.

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