ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' fears were confirmed on Wednesday, when general manager Chris Young announced that shortstop Corey Seager was heading to the 10-day injured list with a Grade 2 strain of his left hamstring. He's expected to miss a minimum of four weeks.
“Stuff happens in baseball,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “You hate to see it, especially with one of your core guys, but we kind of expected him to miss time [after last night]. Now you just gotta keep going. You move forward, it's all you can do. You have no choice in this game. You just hate to see it, especially as well as he's been playing. He’s locked in at the plate as well as any hitter I've seen. But we’ve got to pick it up and keep moving.”
Seager missed about a month of playing time in 2019, from June 13-July 10, with a left hamstring strain when he was with the Dodgers.
The 28-year-old shortstop got off to a hot start this season, hitting .359 with a 1.007 OPS after his three plate appearances against the Royals. Seager led the Rangers in all three slash categories (.359/.469/.538).
“I’m obviously disappointed,” Seager said. “You just take it day by day, you know? There's nothing else you can really do now other than support your teammates and try to be healthy. How does that look? I don't know yet. I just don't want to be a distraction or anything. Just try and be as smart as possible, be around but not be in anybody's way.”
What does life without Seager look like for the Rangers?
“No team is equipped to handle losing somebody of Corey’s caliber,” Young said. “But we're very happy with the players we have and looking forward to seeing them have an opportunity to step up and help us win games.”
While both Smith and Duran have become utility bench players during their time in the big leagues, Smith played 111 games at shortstop across three Minor League seasons. Duran mostly played second base in the Minors, but got more acclimated with playing shortstop while in Spring Training.
Seager said he doesn’t feel like he needs to tell Smith anything or give him any advice because he’s a good shortstop independent of his title as “Corey Seager’s replacement.”
“I'm not Corey Seager, of course, and Corey Seager’s not Josh Smith,” Smith said. “We are two different players. Like I said, I'm gonna go out every day prepared, and do my best. I’m probably not gonna go out there and hit  home runs, like he did last year, but I'm gonna give everything I got, and hopefully we'll win some games while I'm out there.”
Replacing Seager with Smith does notable change to the offensive construction of the Rangers. Smith is a speedy contact hitter who doesn’t often slug much. Seager, on the other hand, has a career .854 OPS across parts of nine big league seasons.
While Smith is hitting in Seager’s spot in the two-hole in the Rangers’ first game without him, it's unlikely to be like that all the time. Young doesn’t write out the lineup card, and he said he expects there to be a little creativity in the lineup night-in and night-out until Seager returns.
“I’m probably going to tinker a bit,” Bochy said of the lineup. “The offensive approach doesn’t change. They’re all different hitters. [The offense] may change because of the personnel, but I can’t change who they are. I want them to be who they are.”
“I think Smitty can be a very good top of the order guy, because he gives you quality at-bats, he can see pitches, and if you make a mistake, he can jump on one. It's up to me to adjust to the team and now it's a different lineup with him in the two-hole. So that's gonna be up to me and our staff to maybe run things a little bit different than what we've been doing with Corey in the lineup.”