Seager gives glimpse of future with huge game
Dodgers rookie shortstop in elite company with four hits, stolen base
PHOENIX -- Yasiel Puig forced his way into the Dodgers lineup as a rookie. So did Joc Pederson.
Corey Seager's time is soon, if not now. He's supposed to only be filling in for injured shortstop Jimmy Rollins, but Seager is playing with a quality that results in wins, along with sticky questions about keeping the job even when Rollins heals from a lingering sprained right index finger.
Manager Don Mattingly dismissed the notion before Saturday's 9-5 win. But Seager then slugged his first Major League home run, went 4-for-4 with a double, stolen base, walk, three runs scored and three RBIs, still showing no signs of pennant-stretch panic that would be expected from a 21-year-old. He's reached base in nine consecutive plate appearances, making him the first Dodgers rookie to do so since team moved to Los Angeles in 1958.
Seager is the first player 21 or younger to go 4-for-4 (or better) with a home run and stolen base in the same game since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1989, at the age of 19. Seager is only the fifth player 21 or younger to do it since at least 1914, joining Griffey, Joe Morgan, Orlando Cepeda and Jimmie Foxx.
The home run came one pitch after a fan in Arizona garb reached to catch a Seager foul ball that left fielder David Peralta was about to catch. Peralta was still fuming when Seager sent the next pitch into the left-field seats. Seager said he needed to thank the fan who interfered, as well as the one that returned his home run ball.
Seager was initially greeted in the dugout by the traditional silent treatment, one of many rookie hazing stunts he's dealt with.
"It's all in good fun though, it comes with being a rookie," he said. "I kind of embrace it and it's a lot more fun that way."
Although he has a big leaguer for a brother (Kyle), Seager credited Dodgers veterans who "guide you through the way and let you know what to do and where to be."
It's working pretty well, judging by his .467 batting average, 1.301 OPS, along with seven RBIs and seven walks in nine games.
Seager had plenty of help as the Dodgers chased another one of their former phenoms, Rubby De La Rosa, after two innings. In addition to Seager, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Pederson homered. Pederson had three hits.
Seager and the offense took the spotlight in a game that saw the Dodgers bullpen taxed for the second consecutive night. Alex Wood's 1 2/3 inning start on Friday was followed by Mike Bolsinger, who went into the fourth inning with a seven-run lead and didn't make it out. Bolsinger said he's puzzled by the loss of command of his offspeed pitches.
After nursing 6 1/3 innings out of the bullpen Friday night, Mattingly got 5 1/3 innings more Saturday night. He does, however, have 10 relievers with which to work, thanks to the expanded rosters he's been critical of. And he used seven of them Saturday, J.P. Howell picking up a one-pitch win and Kenley Jansen getting his 32nd save.