Cody Bellinger talks Dodgers' mindset, pace-of-play rules, and binge-worthy TV

After a rookie campaign that produced 39 home runs, helped send the Dodgers to the World Series and earned NL Rookie of the Year honors, it would seem there's little room for improvement for Cody Bellinger. But Belligner's second season will be an important one for him and his teammates.

After a rookie campaign that produced 39 home runs, helped send the Dodgers to the World Series and earned NL Rookie of the Year honors, it would seem there's little room for improvement for Cody Bellinger.

But Bellinger's second season will be an important one for him and his teammates; Bellinger looks to avoid a sophomore slump and the Dodgers aim to build on last season's success and make a return trip to the Fall Classic.

MORE: Bellinger named SN Rookie of the Year in players' vote

Bellinger spoke with me about his 2018 outlook, new pace-of-play rules and more as part of a promotional campaign for Met-Rx, a nutritional supplement that he has incorporated into his workout routine to help maintain his weight during the season.

(This interview has been edited for clarity and length.)

Sporting News: What’s the mindset in the Dodgers clubhouse as we near Opening Day?

Cody Bellinger: We’re all ready. Obviously, (the World Series loss) was a tough thing to end on. I got out to spring training a week and a half early, two weeks early, and I want to say 25 or 30 guys were already out there. So we’re all ready to get the season started and show last year wasn’t a fluke.

SN: Do you guys feel like there’s some unfinished business?

CB: Yeah. I think we’re all happy, especially me, with what I did my rookie season. But, you know, that’s over — the awards and everything were cool — but now we’ve just kind of got to focus on this season, and we’re all hungry for more.

SN: What’s going to be the biggest challenge for you after that great rookie year to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump?

CB: Just put it in the back of my mind and definitely not even think about the sophomore slump. Everyone keeps asking me about it and I don’t really care about it. I’m going to go out every day and do what I did last year and not worry about anything — just having fun and trying to help the team win.

SN: How will the experience from your rookie season, going all the way to Game 7 of the World Series, help you in your second season?

CB: Obviously we’ve been in the biggest game you can ever be in. We have a young team, so it was good to have our team be a part of that crazy series, and I think it’s only going to get easier from here for us. Or not easier, but we’ve been through it all.

SN: How did you come to be involved with Met-Rx?

CB: It was kind of an easy choice for me. I’ve always had trouble keeping weight on, or putting weight on as well. The Met-Rx products … helped me take my workouts to the next level. The Big 100 bars were big for me. I have one before my workouts every day to kind of fuel me throughout the whole workout.

SN: When did you start using it?

CB: Toward the end of the season last year. I kinda wanted to make a change. I was losing a lot of weight throughout the season last year, and I was eating a lot of food, but I wanted to incorporate something else in my system. I just kept eating those Big 100 bars. It’s a great meal replacement, or a great add-on after a meal.

SN: What are your thoughts on the new rules about mound visits? As a first baseman, is this something you’ll have to remind yourself of, to make sure you don’t walk over there out of habit and get charged with a visit?

CB: Absolutely. I think it’s good that they’re incorporating it into spring training games right now. I think it’s just going to take a little getting used to, just because you’re so used to walking out to the pitcher after a double play or something — and you can’t leave your position now. I think it’s just gonna be something that we have to get used to and really watch out just so we don’t ruin it for the team.

MORE: Opening Day schedule for all 30 teams

SN: What are your thoughts on pace of play in general?

CB: The game of baseball is slow in general, (but) it’s getting to a point where some games are getting ridiculously slow with the amount of timeouts or pauses. … I like what they’re doing with it, so we’ll see how it goes.

SN: If you could change one baseball rule, what would it be?

CB: I don’t know. As a hitter, I think if we wanted to change something, we should scoot the mound back. But that’s never gonna happen.

SN: A lot has been made of the slow offseason and players not getting good contract offers. Some people say the free-agent system needs fixing. Do you agree with that?

CB: I don’t know much about what went on. I don’t really understand all that kind of stuff, if I’m being honest, so I don’t really have an exact answer. But it definitely was a weird, weird offseason for the players. There are still a lot of deserving players that aren’t signed yet, that’s for sure.

SN: Is that something players have been talking about in camp?

CB: I think it crosses our minds. But ... it’s kind of out of our control right now.

SN: This one is just for fun. What’s the last TV show you binged?

CB: “Sons of Anarchy." I crushed that show.

SN: So you liked it, I guess?

CB: Yeah, I loved that show.