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Corey Seager back in the lineup for Dodgers after dealing with sore back

Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager throws to first base as he warms up.
Corey Seager returns to the Dodgers’ starting lineup at designated hitter against the San Diego Padres on Thursday.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

Corey Seager was back in the Dodgers’ lineup Thursday, making a quicker-than-expected recovery from back discomfort that had held him out of the team’s five previous games.

Seager, who was hitting a team-best .340 when he hurt his back diving for a ground ball last Friday, will be the designated hitter and bat second in the Dodgers’ series finale against the San Diego Padres.

“To be quite honest, I didn’t expect him to be ready to play in a game tonight,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said during a Thursday afternoon video call. “But the training staff, Corey’s work, they’ve done a tremendous job getting him ready.”

Roberts added: “He could have conceivably played shortstop. But to get him in that DH role today I think is a good start … The body is moving well. No discomfort at all. Strength is there. Going forward, we’ll certainly keep an eye on him as much or more than we have. But he’s in a really good place.”

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Mookie Betts will slot in above Seager in Thursday’s lineup, serving as the leadoff hitter for the first time since Aug. 2 against Padres right-handed starter Chris Paddock (2-1, 3.18 ERA).

“I like it, I’ve always liked it,” Roberts said of putting Betts first in the order, adding: “We’ve always known Mookie, [Justin Turner], Corey are pretty much split neutral. So to get guys that are seeing the baseball well at the top continues to get those guys more at-bats, gives them a better chance to string some hits together.”

The Dodgers have partnered with LeBron James’ voting rights organization to turn Dodger Stadium into a polling center for the general election in November.

Roberts said the move also allows Max Muncy and Joc Pederson, the two left-handers who have most often led off in recent weeks, “a different look” amid their recent individual slumps. The two will hit sixth and seventh, respectively, in Thursday’s lineup.

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At the bottom of the order, catcher Austin Barnes will start in place of the injured Will Smith, who Roberts said is day-to-day after exiting Wednesday’s game with a sore neck.

“It’s more localized. That’s a good thing,” Roberts said. “He’s down today … only using him in an emergency. And tomorrow, very unlikely he’ll play.”

Left-hander Julio Urías (1-0) will make his fourth start of the season for the Dodgers. In 15 innings, he has a 2.40 ERA and 10 strikeouts.

Dodgers’ starting lineup for Thursday’s game:

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1. Mookie Betts — Right field

Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts.
(Kent Nishimura; Allison Hong / Los Angeles Times)

2. Corey Seager — Designated hitter

Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager.
(Kent Nishimura; Allison Hong / Los Angeles Times)

3. Justin Turner — Third base

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner.
(Kent Nishimura; Allison Hong / Los Angeles Times)

4. Cody Bellinger — First base

Dodgers first baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger.
(Kent Nishimura; Allison Hong / Los Angeles Times)
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5. AJ Pollock — Center field

Dodgers outfielder AJ Pollock.
(Kent Nishimura; Allison Hong / Los Angeles Times)

6. Max Muncy — Second base

Dodgers infielder Max Muncy
(Kent Nishimura; Allison Hong / Los Angeles Times)

7. Joc Pederson — Left field

Dodgers first baseman Joc Pederson.
(Kent Nishimura; Allison Hong / Los Angeles Times)

8. Chris Taylor — Shortstop

Dodgers utility player Chris Taylor.
(Kent Nishimura; Allison Hong / Los Angeles Times)
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9. Austin Barnes — Catcher

Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes.
(Kent Nishimura; Allison Hong / Los Angeles Times)

Julio Urías — Starting pitcher

Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias.
(Kent Nishimura; Allison Hong / Los Angeles Times)


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