Corey Seager back in the lineup for Dodgers after dealing with sore back
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.”
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.”
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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.
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.
1. Mookie Betts — Right field
2. Corey Seager — Designated hitter
3. Justin Turner — Third base
4. Cody Bellinger — First base
5. AJ Pollock — Center field
6. Max Muncy — Second base
7. Joc Pederson — Left field
8. Chris Taylor — Shortstop
9. Austin Barnes — Catcher
Julio Urías — Starting pitcher
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