Corey Seager reached a milestone Monday in his rehabilitation. For the first time since March 3, when he tweaked his upper back making a throw at an awkward angle, he wore his full Dodgers uniform.
"That was fun, going outside and putting on pants again," Seager said inside a mostly empty clubhouse at Camelback Ranch.
Seager got dressed so he could track the last few pitches of a bullpen session by starter Brandon McCarthy. Then he went back indoors to his solitary regimen of walking on a treadmill, riding an elliptical bike and other low-intensity exercises that can keep his legs fresh while his back heals.
Sidelined for the last 10 days, Seager will remain inactive and is unlikely to play in a game this week, Manager Dave Roberts indicated. He has not been cleared to swing a bat or to make throws.
"Corey is still just getting better, but not doing any baseball-specific stuff," Roberts said. "Really, not too much. I keep hearing there's improvement. But enough to get him on the field? It hasn't happened yet."
Dodgers officials insisted that the extended rest afforded Seager, who was initially expected to play in a game last Friday, should not invite alarm. The team still expects him to be ready for opening day. Seager, team officials said, is being handled with the sort of care that fits his status as one of the organization's most precious assets.
The team went through a version of this predicament last spring. In the second week of March, Seager suffered a sprained left knee. He sat out two weeks and required an extensive slate of at-bats in minor league games to prepare for the season.
Seager stumbled in April, hitting .250 with a .707 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. He found his footing in time to emerge as one of the game's best hitters, finishing third in the National League most-valuable-player voting and being unanimously selected rookie of the year.
"It'll be fine," Seager said when asked about missing the chance to face high-quality pitching before the season begins.
For the Dodgers, the risk of aggravating the injury far outweighs the theoretical reward of rushing Seager back to the field. Seager is experiencing tenderness in his back and tightness in his side. Over the weekend, Roberts suggested Seager's oblique muscle may be affected.
An oblique muscle, when strained, often requires at least a month of rest before a player can return. Neither Seager nor the Dodgers want to experience that scenario.
"All I've heard is that these can linger," Seager said. "It's one of those things that if it takes a few more days, it takes a few more days, just so it doesn't bother me in April or September. Just let it be done with."
Roberts echoed the lack of worry, although how little time Seager has had to play the middle infield with new second baseman Logan Forsythe.
"His legs are still in good shape," Roberts said. "You'd obviously like him and Logan to have more time together in the middle of the infield. But I think that once he's healthy, we can still get those at-bats."
Andre Ethier is close to returning
Roberts expects outfielder Andre Ethier (hip tightness, back tightness) to return to the lineup this week. He has not played since March 6. Unlike Seager, Ethier has been cleared to hit and throw.
Adrian Gonzalez, Sergio Romo to rejoin team
First baseman Adrian Gonzalez and reliever Sergio Romo will rejoin the club this week after playing with Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.
After Mexico was eliminated Sunday, Gonzalez showed his displeasure with the tournament in a series of posts on social media. The Mexican team lost the tiebreaker with Team Venezuela because of a rule involving the number of defensive runs given up per inning.