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Dodgers’ Max Muncy reveals he tore a ligament in left elbow at end of regular season

Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy writhes in pain after colliding with a Milwaukee Brewers player.
Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy writhes in pain after colliding with Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Jace Peterson on Oct. 3 at Dodger Stadium.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The Dodgers tend to treat matters in their universe as state secrets. Information is king in Major League Baseball nowadays. The Dodgers, preeminent data connoisseurs, prefer not to share any. This year, that included Max Muncy’s gruesome left elbow injury.

Muncy suffered the injury on the last day of the regular season when a baserunner sprinted through his outstretched arm at first base, bending the elbow in a way it shouldn’t bend. The Dodgers were reticent about the diagnosis.

Days later, Muncy said he dislocated the elbow and suffered some ligament damage. But neither he nor the Dodgers offered more details. Instead, Muncy and the club kept insisting he could return for the postseason if the Dodgers advanced to the World Series even as he wore a massive black brace all day every day. Turns out it was a bluff.

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Max Scherzer will not return to the Dodgers for the 2022 season. He has agreed to a three-year, $130-million contract with the New York Mets.

The truth surfaced Monday when Muncy revealed on MLB Network that he sustained a torn ulnar collateral ligament. Playing in the postseason was never a realistic possibility, but the Dodgers believe he will be ready for the start of the 2022 season.

“I’m not recovering as quick as I would like, but that’s what happens when you do some serious damage to your body,” Muncy said. “A torn UCL is a slow process.”

Muncy, 31, is under contract for another season with a team option for 2023. When healthy, he’s one of the top sluggers in the majors. He’s coming off a season in which he hit 36 home runs with an .895 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 144 games. His presence was missed in October as the Dodgers failed to score consistently until they were bounced in the National League Championship Series.

The setback is another ingredient in a complicated and pivotal offseason for the organization. The club had 12 players hit free agency after the season. The list included Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, Chris Taylor and Kenley Jansen. On Monday, the team lost Scherzer to the New York Mets, who agreed to a three-year, $130-million contract with the future Hall of Famer.

Dodgers World Series MVP Corey Seager agrees to a 10-year, $325-million deal with the Texas Rangers. Will the Rangers also snag Clayton Kershaw?

Hovering in the background — and perhaps limiting the front office’s ability to spend money — is Trevor Bauer’s impending suspension. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office has not yet decided whether to charge Bauer with a crime after he was accused of sexual assault in Pasadena in June.

Major League Baseball’s investigation remains ongoing. The league is expected to levy an unpaid suspension, which would affect the Dodgers’ books, once it closes the investigation. When and for how long he’ll be suspended remains unknown, leaving the Dodgers in somewhat of a holding pattern as teams rush to sign free agents before Wednesday night’s impending lockout.


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