Dodgers ex­pect Sea­ger will be ready for spring train­ing

Los Angeles Times - - COLLEGE BASKETBALL - BY JORGE CASTILLO jorge.castillo@la­ As­so­ci­ated Press con­tributed to this re­port.

CARLS­BAD — The Dodgers are con­fi­dent short­stop Corey Sea­ger will be ready for spring train­ing af­ter un­der­go­ing el­bow lig­a­ment re­place­ment surgery in April and a hip op­er­a­tion in Au­gust, An­drew Fried­man, the team’s pres­i­dent of base­ball op­er­a­tions, said at the base­ball gen­eral man­agers meet­ings this week.

“Ev­ery­thing, to this point, all the check­points have been re­ally good, re­ally pos­i­tive,” Fried­man said. “Un­til you start re­ally ramp­ing up, you don’t re­ally know. He’s worked ex­tremely hard. He’s in re­ally good hands, so we re­main op­ti­mistic.”

Fried­man said Sea­ger, who is re­hab­bing in Los An­ge­les, hasn’t started a throw­ing pro­gram or be­gun run­ning, but he’ll re­sume those with time to spare, bar­ring any set­backs. Af­ter the hip surgery, the club in­di­cated Sea­ger would re­sume base­ball ac­tiv­i­ties in Jan­uary.

Sea­ger, 24, ap­peared in 26 games last sea­son, bat­ting .267 with a .744 on-base-plus­slug­ging per­cent­age. He played the sec­ond half of the 2017 sea­son with in­flam­ma­tion and bone chips in his right el­bow. He tore the ul­nar col­lat­eral lig­a­ment in April, shortly af­ter he hurt his hip. The Dodgers then de­cided to re­solve the hip is­sue while he was al­ready re­hab­bing his el­bow.

Fried­man said he didn’t ex­pect the hip surgery to af­fect Sea­ger’s fu­ture at short­stop.

“The surgery is pretty com­mon with a re­ally high rate of re­turn with guys re­turn­ing sim­i­lar to what they were,” Fried­man said. “So I don’t think so. But ob­vi­ously, any one player can play out in dif­fer­ent ways. But I know first­hand how much he’s dom­i­nated the re­hab process and putting in the work, so that makes us feel as con­fi­dent as we can, sit­ting here in No­vem­ber, that he won’t miss a beat.”

The Dodgers ini­tially at­tempted to re­place Sea­ger with Chris Tay­lor at short­stop. That ex­per­i­ment failed, so they ac­quired Manny Machado, an im­pend­ing free agent, to fuel a play­off push over the sea­son’s fi­nal three months. Machado is now free to ne­go­ti­ate with any club and a re­turn to Los An­ge­les ap­pears im­prob­a­ble. Be­yond the fi­nan­cial cost — the 26-yearold is ex­pected to sign one of the rich­est con­tracts in base­ball his­tory — the Dodgers don’t have a clear fit for him.

Fried­man con­firmed Sea­ger would re­turn as a short­stop. Machado played third base his first six sea­sons with the Bal­ti­more Orioles, but Justin Turner, the Dodgers’ best hit­ter last sea­son, is un­der con­tract for two more years at third. Turner could hy­po­thet­i­cally shift to first base, but that doesn’t ap­pear un­der con­sid­er­a­tion with Cody Bellinger, David Freese and Max Muncy on the ros­ter.

Machado’s brief time in Los An­ge­les was thorny. Though he ex­ceeded de­fen­sive ex­pec­ta­tions and oc­ca­sion­ally pro­duced a timely hit, he didn’t ful­fill his of­fen­sive prom­ise dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son, bat­ted .227 with a .672 OPS in the post­sea­son, and at­tracted neg­a­tive at­ten­tion for a lack of hus­tle and on-field ac­tions per­ceived as dirty. He be­came a vil­lain and was re­minded dur­ing ev­ery road game.

“He got booed in Bal­ti­more three weeks be­fore we traded for him. It’s not like it was a se­cret,” Fried­man said. “I think it’s never a fun thing to watch, at least from my per­spec­tive and van­tage point. But I do think it’s im­por­tant to dig fur­ther and I think there are times when guys do that and they don’t re­ally care. … And by care I mean, the ef­fort they put into their work, what type of team­mate they are, and Manny checks all of those boxes.

“So would I rather see more ef­fort as I’m watch­ing? Of course. I think any­body would say that. But I think that, in it­self, isn’t as crit­i­cal of a dy­namic if he didn’t care, if he didn’t put in the work, didn’t put in the ef­fort. That, in our 3½ months be­ing around him, was re­ally strong.”

Whether the event­ful stint in Los An­ge­les af­fected Machado’s free-agent stock will be­come ev­i­dent over the next sev­eral weeks. The Dodgers, as con­structed, don’t fig­ure to pur­sue him with Sea­ger on the mend. Ut­ley re­leased

Chase Ut­ley was re­leased by the Dodgers so he can of­fi­cially re­tire af­ter 16 years in the ma­jor leagues.

The vet­eran sec­ond base­man said in July he would re­tire at sea­son’s end in or­der to be a full-time fa­ther .

How­ell dies Ken How­ell, a for­mer Dodgers re­lief pitcher and a coach in the or­ga­ni­za­tion for 14 years, died Fri­day at 57.

Robert Gau­thier Los An­ge­les Times

DODGERS short­stop Corey Sea­ger, right, is re­hab­bing in L.A. af­ter two surg­eries.

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