The Dodgers are halfway through spring training and their All-Star shortstop has yet to take the field defensively. In the games Corey Seager has appeared, he has done so solely as a designated hitter. While the Dodgers have plans for him to start playing the field next week, we should look at the options that Los Angeles has should his elbow discomfort amount to something more.
The problems with Seager’s elbow began last August during a series with the Detroit Tigers. He played through it for a little while before spending time on the 10-day DL. He returned to the regular lineup, dealing with the pain. He was left off of the NLCS roster, dealing with a back issue, but made it back for the World Series, where he hit .222 with a double and a homer.
During the offseason, he rested his back and elbow, did therapy and throwing exercises, choosing to not undergo any surgery. In spring training, he started out at short distances and has worked his way up to long tosses and throwing to bases this past Monday. Dave Roberts proposed at the beginning of spring camp that he would only need 10 games to get ready to play defense, but it has taken a bit longer. He is scheduled to play five in innings in a minor league game on Monday and if all goes well, he will play Wednesday against the Colorado Rockies at shortstop.
If the two-time All-Star is not ready to return to active playing time to start the season, who would step into his enormous shoes?
Its interesting how the replacement for shortstop will have ramifications for the outfield. The obvious candidates are Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez. On Wednesday, Ken Gurnick reported that the Dodgers have a plan in place that Taylor would move to short, and center would be a platoon of Kiké, Joc Pederson, and/or Alex Verdugo. Those three men would seem to be the ones battling for the last roster spot.
Verdugo has been doing well so far during Cactus League play, with a slash line of .400/.429/.850./1.279 with three doubles and two home runs. The 21 year old is ranked second among Dodgers’ prospects behind Walker Buehler. He didn’t do so well last season when he was brought up as part of the September call-ups, but seems to be finding his Major League footing.
The real dark horse in all of this is Jake Peter. Acquired from the Chicago White Sox in the deal that also brought Scott Alexander to the team, he has quickly made his presence known. He leads the team in RBI with 12, which is almost twice as much as the next closest player, Andrew Toles with seven. Peter is tied for first with Matt Kemp in home runs with three, hitting them all in consecutive games. He has an impressive slash line of .368/.350/.1.000/1.350. Peter played shortstop for the first time this spring in Wednesday’s game, as he is mostly a second or third baseman. Maybe he could end up being this year’s CT3, spending time in the minors working on a new position, should the worse case scenario happen and Seager go down for an extended period of time.
There are a lot of moving parts depending on the health of one particular elbow. Luckily the Dodgers have the depth to be able to handle such a scenario.
(FOLLOW ANDY ON TWITTER: @DODGERSANDYINPA)