As of Sunday morning, there was no additional news on the exact condition of Corey Seager’s hand, aside from the fact that X-rays administered on Saturday night showed a fracture. Either way, the untimely injury will cause yet another shakeup to an already fluid active roster. Including the four players on the 60-day injured list, the Los Angeles Dodgers will have a total of 13 players on the shelf at the start of Sunday’s finale against the Marlins.
(Update: Reports Sunday afternoon indicated that Seager fractured the fifth metacarpal in his right hand, but surgery will not be necessary. There has yet to be any estimated timetables announced for a prospective return. Keibert Ruiz has taken Seager’s spot on the active roster for Sunday’s game.)
Seager was in obvious pain after being smacked on the hand by a 90- MPH Ross Detwiler sinker in the fifth inning of Saturday’s middle game against Miami. After barely making it halfway up the first base line, skipper Dave Roberts removed Seager from the contest, replacing him with Sheldon Neuse, who would stay in the game to play second base.
Gavin Lux slid over to shortstop, giving onlookers a preview of what may be in store defensively in the immediate future. In the early portion of the 2021 season, there have been quite a few conversations in this space regarding what may happen if Seager signs elsewhere should he become a free agent at the end of the year. Conceivably, fans might be getting a preview of that scenario with Lux.
When Seager missed almost the entire 2018 season after having UCL surgery, the Dodgers used just two players at shortstop—Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez—before acquiring Manny Machado at the summer trade deadline. Taylor made 81 appearances there, committing 10 errors and gathering 197 assists on 302 chances.
In addition to Lux and Taylor, the Dodgers might have a third option at shortstop with Neuse. The 26-year-old righty hitter has not played shortstop since making his MLB debut in 2019, but he did log nine appearances there for the Triple-A Las Vegas Aviators before being called up that season.
“Grew up playing shortstop, played third when I got into professional baseball,” Neuse said in an interview during 2021 Cactus League play. “Made my major league debut at second base and played a little first base here and there. So, honestly, anywhere in the infield I feel comfortable.”
During the game on Saturday, the Dodgers announced they acquired utilityman Yoshitomo Tsutsugo from the Tampa bay Rays for a player to be named later or cash. Since making his MLB debut last year, the 29-year-old lefty hitter has not played any shortstop, having seen most of his time at left field and both corner infield spots. He’s a career .187/.292/.336 hitter in 272 big league plate appearances. Roberts told reporters on Saturday that Tsutsugo will not become active in the organization until sometime next week.
Similarly, the Dodgers claimed another utilityman, 24-year-old lefty hitting Travis Blankenhorn, off waivers after he was released by the Twins earlier this week. Blankenhorn made just two major league appearances over the past two years, with both coming at second base. He hasn’t played shortstop since 2015 in the Gulf Coast Rookie League.
Zach McKinstry, who has been on the shelf with an oblique injury since April 23, has not yet logged any time at shortstop in the majors. However, during the 2019 season, he made 29 appearances there with Double-A Tulsa.
The organization’s third-highest rated prospect, 23-year-old lefty hitter Michael Busch, has been seeing the lion’s share of time at second base for Tulsa. Splitting time between first base, second base, and left field at the University of North Carolina, Busch has not seen any action at shortstop since high school.
17-year-old righty hitting Wilman Diaz, who has yet to make his organizational debut, is a natural shortstop and is currently rated as the system’s eighth-best prospect.
With Seager heading to the injured list and veteran Albert Pujols expected to join the team as soon as Monday, there will certainly be quite a few roster moves ahead for the Dodgers in the coming days.