PHOENIX -- The news wasn't surprising, but it was stunning. Dodgers All-Star shortstop Corey Seager needs Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery and is out for the rest of the season.
Seager -- who battled through right elbow pain late last season and spent the winter strengthening the ulnar collateral ligament and surrounding muscles to hopefully avoid this outcome -- said two painful throws with numbness over the weekend led to an MRI exam Monday morning. The results didn't require an orthopedist or radiologist to interpret them.
"My arm kind of told me," said Seager, who expressed relief at the finality of the diagnosis after months of wondering when his ligament would rupture. "It's almost peace of mind now. It's nice to have a plan to reach goals, instead of the unknown."
Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said the club is optimistic Seager will be back at this time next year or sooner. Manager Dave Roberts said center fielder Chris Taylor will be the everyday shortstop. Zaidi added that the club will replace Seager internally "for the time being," with a "pretty high bar" for going outside of the organization, although he didn't rule it out.
"We're still kind of digesting this news right now, too," said Zaidi, sharing fans' angst. "And we still feel good about the lineup we can field on an everyday basis. We're not as talented without Corey in there, but we're going to have to adopt an approach of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. That's what made us so good last year. We might have had a certain threshold [for a trade] and might be more motivated now, but we still have guys we think can take everyday at-bats."
Roberts said he prefers to play Taylor at shortstop instead of Enrique Hernandez, who also has outfield and shortstop experience. Taylor has been more successful hitting right-handed pitching than Hernandez, who will continue platooning in the outfield and at second base. With Seager placed on the disabled list, the Dodgers recalled infielder Breyvic Valera from Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Roberts, who declared on Sunday he still expected his club to win the division despite its slow start, still had his glass half full on Monday.
"There was a lot of time last year when we didn't have Corey, like in the second round of the playoffs," said Roberts, referring to the back strain that sidelined Seager in the National League Championship Series. "We still have to find ways to win games. As far as our active roster, I feel good about our guys to still win baseball games. We have to have other guys step up and fill the void. We can do it."
Seager gives the Dodgers three-quarters of the starting infield on the disabled list -- joining third baseman Justin Turner and second baseman John Forsythe -- not to mention right fielder Yasiel Puig and starting pitcher Rich Hill. The other starting infielder, Cody Bellinger, was removed from Sunday's loss for not hustling. And the club is off to one of its worst starts in half a century.
Seager said having Tommy John surgery during last offseason would have been premature, so instead he rehabbed with the hope he could get through the season. But, "it's necessary now." Dr. Neal ElAttrache will perform the operation in Los Angeles on Friday.
Seager is one of the best young shortstops in the game. Since his first full season in 2016, he leads all shortstops with 13.3 Wins Above Replacement, according to FanGraphs. He ranks fifth among all position players, behind only superstars Michael Trout (18.4 WAR), Mookie Betts (15.6), Jose Altuve and Kristopher Bryant (15.4 each).
"I hate that that's happened to anybody," said D-backs manager Torey Lovullo before the opening of a four-game series at Chase Field. "But I can't really concern myself with what's going over there in their dugout and their clubhouse because we have so many things that are happening here. I know that they probably have the same mentality that we do where it's next man up and they've got very good depth and they're going to have somebody that's going to step in and fill that void the best they possibly can."