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Dodgers

Virtual reality goggles help Dodgers’ Corey Seager see through injury rehab

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - JUNE 19, 2019. Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager applauds his team from the dugou
Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager applauds his team from the dugout during the game against the San Francisco Giants on June 19 at Dodger Stadium.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Injured Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager has utilized technology to stay sharp. Along with injured teammate A.J. Pollock — who like Seager is targeted to come off the injured list after the All-Star break — Seager has used virtual reality goggles to simulate plate appearances.

This spring, the Dodgers introduced the innovation, which allows hitters to track and gauge the speeds of digitally projected pitches at the plate. The release point and array of pitches of any pitcher in baseball can be replicated through the goggles, as can the backdrop of any stadium. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said there are skeptics, but Seager isn’t one of them.

“Some people like it, some people don’t,” Seager said. “Some people do it here or there. I liked it before, so I just kept doing it because I could. … I think it helps.”

Seager, who according to Roberts might not require a rehab stint in the minor leagues before returning to the active roster, has used the virtual reality system almost every day since going on the injured list. After spending so much time away from the diamond the last two years, he was willing to try anything that could help him come back faster.

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“I definitely think it speeds up the process,” Roberts said. “Just training your mind. keeping your mind current, your eyes, the reaction, all that stuff. [Seager and Pollock] have been doing it religiously since the day they were on the IL, which is a credit to all those guys.”

If Seager had it his way, he’d be back in the Dodgers’ lineup by now. Tommy John surgery prematurely ended his 2018 season in April last year, and after returning for 27 games this May and early June, the shortstop has missed the last three weeks with a hamstring strain.

He’s close to coming back — just not close enough for his liking.

“He thinks he’s ready to go,” Roberts said. “He looks really good. Running, his body looks great, the at-bats, swings, everything looks really good. I think for us, we just got to sit down, which we will do today, and talk about what’s the best plan to get him and keep him healthy the rest of the way.”

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On Tuesday, Roberts said Seager probably wouldn’t rejoin the team until after the All-Star break. Roberts reiterated that stance Wednesday, though he added that it’s “unlikely but possible” for Seager to come back sooner.

“We’re going to get together and go through the pros and cons,” Roberts said.

Seager, 25, started this season slowly, collecting 17 hits in his first 71 at-bats. He found a rhythm in June, batting .425 and slugging .625 prior to getting hurt. Whenever he returns, he hopes he’ll pick up where he left off.

“I feel better now than I did before,” he said, referring to his sluggish beginning to the year. “You never know how it’s going to be, but I definitely feel better now.”

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Short hops

The Dodgers moved Rich Hill from the 10-day to 60-day injured list Wednesday. Roberts said “it’s hard to imagine” the injured starting pitcher coming back before September. Hill went on the injured list June 20 after straining his left forearm against the San Francisco Giants. Hill’s move to the 60-day injured list opened up a 40-man roster spot for newly acquired right-hander Casey Sadler, whom the Dodgers received in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday in exchange for minor league pitcher Nathan Witt. Sadler was optioned to triple-A Oklahoma City. … After leaving Justin Turner on the bench again Wednesday, Roberts said he planned on putting the third baseman back in lineup for Thursday’s series opener against the San Diego Padres. Turner, who didn’t play at all Tuesday but was available Wednesday, has been held out of the lineup after a hit-by-pitch Sunday in Colorado caused lingering soreness in his elbow.

jack.harris@latimes.com

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