Enrique Hernandez was on the Dodgers’ roster Sunday against the Washington Nationals. He won’t be on it Monday when they open a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies in Denver. He will go on the injured list with a left hand injury of some sort. The Dodgers have known this since at least Saturday, but the exact ailment is unclear because the Dodgers have declined to divulge details.
This much was clear: the Dodgers needed to replace Hernandez with someone they felt comfortable playing shortstop to back up Corey Seager. Chris Taylor is already on the injured list with a forearm fracture. Hernandez was the only other option left.
Late Sunday night, they presumably traded for the replacement, acquiring utility player Kristopher Negron from the Seattle Mariners for minor leaguer infielder Daniel Castro.
Negron, 33, spent most of the season with triple-A Tacoma, where he was batting .310 with 12 home runs and a .899 OPS, before getting promoted to the majors recently. He owns a .216 batting average and .617 OPS in 139 major-league games for three teams across six seasons. He appeared in nine games for the Mariners this season, going 5 for 22 at the plate.
Negron’s defensive versatility fits the Dodgers. He has logged more innings at shortstop than anywhere else in his career but has played every position besides catcher over the last three seasons. He would take the final spot on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster.
Hernandez underwent an MRI exam Friday, two days after he injured his hand on a swing against the Angels. He hasn’t played since. All weekend, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts maintained he didn’t know the results of the exam, but that the injured list was “inevitable” for Hernandez. He also maintained Hernandez was limited to defense and baserunning, effectively leaving Roberts with a short bench. Asked whether Hernandez is expected to miss a significant amount of time, Roberts said he would take the under on a month.
“Our goal was to kind of get him through this weekend just to have coverage as far as on the defensive side, potential baserunning if we need it,” Roberts said.
The most obvious possible in-house replacement for Hernandez was Gavin Lux, the Dodgers’ recently minted top prospect by Baseball America. The 21-year-old middle infielder thrived for double-A Tulsa and has been on a tear since joining triple-A Oklahoma City last month, batting .479 in 94 at-bats . But Roberts said the team wasn’t considering Lux, citing the desire to have Lux play every day.
The Dodgers didn’t have another shortstop on the 40-man roster. Castro and Drew Jackson were internal options. Both have major league experience but neither was knocking down the door to the majors. Instead, they seemingly filled the need with Negron to replace Hernandez on Monday.
Tuesday starter up in the thin air
Roberts said the Dodgers will likely go with a “bullpen day” Tuesday against the Rockies as long as the bullpen was not drained Monday to fill the vacancy Ross Stripling left when he went on the injured list with biceps tendinitis Saturday.
Julio Urias figures to pitch multiple innings Tuesday if the Dodgers stay away from him before then. Urias hasn’t pitched since logging 1 2/3 innings last Tuesday
Dylan Floro should return by then to supply another fresh arm. Floro is expected to rejoin the Dodgers in Denver on Monday, the first day he’s eligible for activation. However, Roberts said that doesn’t mean he will immediately come off the injured list. Floro allowed two hits in a scoreless inning for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Friday. The right-hander has been on the injured list since July 19 with neck inflammation.
Roberts said Taylor left the team to go home for personal reasons and will meet the Dodgers in Los Angeles when they return home Thursday. Taylor has been on the injured list since July 15.