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Seager confident he'll be 'ready to go' next year

Shortstop upbeat as he recovers from elbow, hip surgeries
MLB.com @kengurnick

DENVER -- Corey Seager provided an upbeat update on his recovery from two major operations and insisted he'll be ready to play -- and play shortstop -- for the Dodgers in 2019.

Seager, who underwent Tommy John elbow reconstruction on May 6, is walking without crutches one month after arthroscopic surgery to repair torn left hip labrum and shave a misshaped bone. He said he doesn't consider the fact that he's had two significant injuries by age 24 the result of playing a demanding defensive position usually manned by bodies smaller than his 6-4, 220-pound frame.

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DENVER -- Corey Seager provided an upbeat update on his recovery from two major operations and insisted he'll be ready to play -- and play shortstop -- for the Dodgers in 2019.

Seager, who underwent Tommy John elbow reconstruction on May 6, is walking without crutches one month after arthroscopic surgery to repair torn left hip labrum and shave a misshaped bone. He said he doesn't consider the fact that he's had two significant injuries by age 24 the result of playing a demanding defensive position usually manned by bodies smaller than his 6-4, 220-pound frame.

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"Nope, not at all. It really hasn't been a thought," he said last week. "I'm planning to stay at short. All [the injuries] would have happened in other positions. I don't think it made a huge difference."

After putting Chris Taylor at shortstop when Seager went on the disabled list with the elbow injury, the Dodgers in July acquired superstar shortstop Manny Machado, who is a free agent after this season.

"You always want players like that on your team," Seager said of Machado's acquisition. "He's been great since he came over. I've had a lot of great talks with him. We needed a right-handed bat to play the infield and that's what he does at a really high level."

Seager's health figures to be one factor in management's decision whether to pursue Machado with a long-term offer and create an infield traffic jam sooner or later. So, if management came to Seager and asked if he can be counted on at shortstop next year, what would he say?

"Yeah, absolutely," he said. "Based to this point, I'll be ready to go. I should, 'quote unquote,' have a pretty normal spring. It will probably be a little slow in the beginning, but should be pretty normal."

Seager said his throwing program will begin early next month, providing six months before the 2019 season starts. He put off the hip surgery, which required a month on crutches, until his arm was strong enough to handle the crutches.

And through the most recent procedure, he's learned that virtually all baseball activities go through the hip, which he admits was bothering him since the middle of last year, offensively and defensively. But, he added, that makes him even more confident he'll be healthy for the first time in years.

"It definitely makes me happy to hear that things are going to stop bothering me," he said. "It would make me really happy to be able to play without pain. You lose flexibility from it. It was just nagging, annoying and would take a while to get loose.

"It was like a deep feeling. I always felt like I was out of place, never in line. In general, if I loaded it a certain way it bothered me. I actually learned it stems from all the problems I had. It affects your arm, it affects your back and hamstrings. If you can't move through your hips, you manipulate your arm and that causes stress. It's kind of all related. In theory, it's going to help everything."

Seager said the toughest part of his rehab is being unable to help his teammates battle on the field for another postseason shot.

"That's the toughest, because you have no control over it. You can't do anything but cheer them on," he said.

Kershaw start moved
Clayton Kershaw will start Thursday's opener of the series in St. Louis instead of Wednesday in Cincinnati, Dave Roberts announced on Sunday. Ross Stripling is most likely to start on Wednesday, unless he's needed in relief before then.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Corey Seager