SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager was one of the hottest hitters on the planet last October, and the World Series MVP has carried his hot hitting into the spring.
Seager hit his fifth homer of the spring in the fourth inning of the Dodgers’ 12-5 win over the Rockies on Monday, a two-run shot off Colorado left-hander Brian Gonzalez that carried over the left field wall. The estimated distance on the homer was 374 feet, per Statcast, and the exit velocity was 103.8 mph. Seager has now homered in five of his last six Spring Training games.
With another 2-for-2 performance on Monday, Seager is now hitting .478 (11-for-23) with five homers and 11 RBIs. Seager’s slugging percentage this spring is now 1.130.
“Not yet, but if I had my choice, I would,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts laughed, when asked if he’s planning on bubble wrapping Seager until Opening Day. “He’s just picking up where he left off last year.”
A healthy Seager established himself as one of the best shortstops in the Majors last season. The former National League Rookie of the Year hit 15 home runs and finished with a .943 OPS in 52 games. He was even better in the postseason, hitting eight homers and driving in 20 runs in 18 games en route to taking home NL Championship Series and World Series MVP trophies.
Seager now enters the final year of his contract with the Dodgers. If the two sides don’t come to an agreement at some point this season, Seager will headline what is shaping up to be one of the best free-agent markets in years, especially at the shortstop position. This spring, Seager said that he won’t publicly share anything about possible negotiations and that his focus is on helping the Dodgers win in 2021.
The Dodgers have no doubt that Seager has all the tools to have an MVP-type campaign in 2021, and while Spring Training stats won’t count come April 1, Seager is swinging the bat like someone who could be adding another MVP trophy to his collection.
“Corey is a very confident player, in a good way,” Roberts said. “I think the thing just goes back to his health. He feels good, his body is moving right and the results are certainly there.”
Both pitchers are scheduled to go three or four innings, per Roberts. Pitching Bauer on Tuesday allows the right-hander to stay on his normal routine.
“He doesn’t care about the ego of starting,” Roberts said, when asked why Bauer was piggybacking Kershaw on Tuesday. “He can get his prep work before the game and while Clayton is pitching.”
Walker Buehler is scheduled to start on Wednesday against the White Sox.
Right-hander Brusdar Graterol is still not ready to pitch in a Cactus League game. Graterol’s buildup this spring has been a lot slower than anticipated due to some issues in the offseason. Roberts said he couldn’t get into details of what slowed Graterol’s progress, but did say that it wasn’t anything related to his throwing arm.
Graterol has thrown just fastballs in his bullpen sessions this spring, but Roberts said the reliever could start spinning breaking balls soon. With just over two weeks before Opening Day, it’s becoming increasingly likely that Graterol will start the season on the injured list, but Roberts said there’s still a chance for him to be on the Opening Day roster.
“I wouldn’t say the door is closed,” Roberts said. “He’s progressing very well, but I do think as a one-inning [reliever], there’s still an opportunity. The main thing is that we want him to be healthy and progress the right way.”
As for Cody Bellinger, the outfielder is scheduled to make his Cactus League debut on Tuesday as the team’s center fielder. Bellinger, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right (non-throwing) shoulder, is still hopeful that he’ll be ready for Opening Day.