Max Muncy woke up Friday morning bracing for the worst and hoping for the best in the final round of tests on his injured right wrist. He got something in the middle before the Dodgers discovered a new way to lose in a 5-4 defeat to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
An MRI exam revealed Muncy has a small fracture in the wrist. It is a bleaker outcome than the initial diagnosis of a contusion following a fluoroscopy Tuesday and X-rays Wednesday, but far from the worst-case scenario. A significant fracture would have meant missing up to eight weeks. That could have threatened his status for the start of the postseason. Instead, Muncy and the club expect he will miss approximately two weeks.
Muncy sustained the injury when San Diego Padres pitcher Matt Strahm plunked him with a 94-mph fastball Wednesday.
“It’s average news right now,” Muncy said. “It wasn’t good news. It wasn’t bad news. So, yes, there is something in there, but we’re not looking at a super long timetable.”
Los Angeles placed Muncy on the 10-day injured list and activated utility player Kristopher Negron to replace him on the roster before taking the field Friday and falling victim to some strangeness.
The Dodgers (88-49) led for most of the night on the back of another strong outing from rookie right-hander Tony Gonsolin before Arizona belted two-run home runs in the sixth and seventh innings to tie the game at 4. The Diamondbacks (69-66) went a more unconventional route to seize the lead in the eighth en route to their second straight win to begin the four-game series.
The quirkiness began when Tim Locastro, a former Dodger, reached base on a passed ball after swinging through strike three against Yimi Garcia. The speedster stole second and took third on a single. With runners on the corners, Garcia struck out Nick Ahmed swinging on three pitches before Garcia balked to allow Locastro to score the go-ahead run.
Garcia got the next two batters to conclude the bizarre outing. The right-hander officially secured four outs — though Locastro’s strikeout essentially makes it five — and all of his 19 pitches were strikes.
“Locastro kind of spooked him, I think, and the balk,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “So it was kind of an unconventional way to lose a baseball game.”
Garcia’s mishap, combined with the two-run home run right-hander Casey Sadler gave up to Josh Rojas to tie the game in the seventh, soiled Gonsolin’s return to Chase Field, the site of his major-league debut in June.
That outing was derailed by an unfortunate four-run first inning. Friday went much better for the 25-year-old. Gonsolin held Arizona without a hit for three innings and scoreless until the sixth when he issued a walk to leadoff hitter Rojas before Eduardo Escobar socked a two-run home run to pull the Diamondbacks within a run.
The blast came on Gonsolin’s 92nd and final pitch. He allowed the two runs on three hits, walking three and striking out five. He added an RBI single at the plate. In five games with the Dodgers since that forgettable debut — four starts and a relief outing — Gonsolin has posted a 1.88 earned-run average and 0.88 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) across 24 innings. Given the opportunity to audition for a postseason role, Gonsolin is pitching his way into strong consideration.
“He continues to impress and continues to get more comfortable,” Roberts said.
It was a positive development in a day that began with one for Muncy after a series of tests with various technologies was required to determine the severity of his injury. The exams began upon exiting Wednesday’s game. Petco Park didn’t have X-ray equipment on site, so Muncy underwent a fluoroscopy. It did not reveal any structural damage.
Fluoroscopies, however, are not very thorough. In July, teammate Chris Taylor underwent one that didn’t show any fractures after he was hit by a pitch in the same area on his left wrist. A more exhaustive exam revealed a non-displaced fracture. He missed five weeks.
The Dodgers do not expect Muncy to miss that much time. Roberts said it is “not too overly optimistic” to believe Muncy will return in two weeks — more than enough time to rediscover his rhythm before the playoffs.
“Based on the timetable that we have, yeah ... there should be no question about [being ready for the playoffs],” Muncy said. “But things happen. Things don’t happen. We’ll see.”
While the Dodgers boast perhaps the deepest 40-man roster in the majors, not having Muncy for the playoffs would leave a hole. In two years, Muncy has ascended from unemployed minor leaguer to an All-Star and crucial member of a World Series contender. The infielder is the kind of hitter the Dodgers fancy: a bopper with elite plate discipline. He ranks second on the club in home runs (33), RBIs (87) and on-base-plus-slugging (.899) — behind only Cody Bellinger in all three categories — and has displayed an improvement defensively
Muncy explained that doctors told him the fracture cannot worsen and his return will depend on pain tolerance. For now, he will wait until the swelling and bruising subsides with a treatment and a black brace wrapped around the wrist.
“I was pretty upset, but there’s not really anything you can do about it,” Muncy said. “It’s either take the news and move on or you get upset and make things worse. So I just try to take it and move on and cheer the guys on.”