On Saturday, they lost him, at least for a chunk of the Cactus League schedule. Seager will sit out one to two weeks because of a sprained left knee.
The season opens in three weeks, and Manager Dave Roberts said that Seager might not be ready for the opener. “That’s pushing it,” Roberts said. “It’s not ideal.”
Seager, a shortstop ranked as the top prospect in baseball, suffered the injury while running the bases Friday. The Dodgers exhaled Saturday after an MRI examination revealed no tears in the knee.
Roberts did not dispute the notion that the Dodgers did not have much depth at shortstop beyond Seager.
"That's fair," Roberts said.
For now, Enrique Hernandez will be the primary shortstop. Hernandez is a utilityman who has played more major league games at second base, left field and center field than shortstop.
The backup is Charlie Culberson, signed as a minor league free agent last winter. Culberson, 26, a former first-round pick of the San Francisco Giants, has played 23 of his 146 major league games at shortstop.
Culberson has not played 50 games at shortstop in any professional season since 2008. Hernandez never has.
"I feel good about our depth relative to the industry," said Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers' president of baseball operations. "It's a tough position to have three or four lines of defense. Almost every team is vulnerable if their starting shortstop gets hurt."
The Dodgers have used their player payroll — the highest in the game — to amass significant depth at pitcher, second base, third base and the outfield.
"There's a dearth of really good, quality shortstops," Friedman said, "It's the same with catcher and center field."
Would the Dodgers have to pursue a trade for a shortstop if Seager were to have to miss a considerable chunk of the regular season?
"We don't have to answer that question," Friedman said. "We're in a good position with Corey right now."
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