Back like he never left: Seager giving immediate boost

May 21st, 2023

ARLINGTON -- Corey is definitely back in the house. 

Rangers star shortstop Corey Seager is just four days off the injured list, but he wasted no time making himself known. Seager went 3-for-4 with a home run on Saturday, as Texas defeated Colorado, 11-5, to take the series. 

Seager was a triple shy of the cycle in the win, though he was removed ahead of the seventh with the Rangers up by 10 runs.

Seager is back in action after a month on the injured list with a hamstring strain. After going hitless in his first game back on Wednesday against the Braves, Seager has since gone 4-for-8 with just one strikeout in the two games after.

“It’s pretty impressive,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said of Seager’s return. “You look at the number of at-bats he had on his rehab assignment, and this guy missed, what, six weeks, whatever it was in that area. Then he got a stomach bug, so he also went three days without even seeing live pitching. To step right in and start swinging the bat the way he does, it just shows you how good a hitter he is.

“He's just a really good hitter.”

Before the hamstring strain paused his season, Seager looked well on his way to another All-Star year. In the first 11 games, he slashed .359/.469/.539 with a 1.008 and nine RBIs.

Hopefully for the Rangers, this is him picking up exactly where he left off.

“He was swinging the hot bat before he got hurt,” said second baseman Marcus Semien. “We all know he works extremely hard on his craft, and he's come back and looks just like the same guy. It's really exciting for us. 

“I think that [Bochy] is going to have to get creative with getting all those hot bats in the lineup. It's a good problem to have. I think today, seeing [Corey] hit one out dead center was good. I'm just trying to get on base for all those guys who have been hitting great behind me.”

On Saturday, Seager wasn’t the only Ranger with a hot bat. Every Texas starter except backup catcher Sandy Leon recorded at least one hit. Seager, Semien and Nathaniel Lowe recorded three each, and Ezequiel Duran added a pair of his own.

Duran, who homered on Saturday against the Rockies as the DH, filled in at shortstop when Seager was out. In the 28 games he played with Seager on the IL, Duran hit .305 with an .876 OPS, six home runs and 20 RBIs. 

“It's a tough lineup to navigate for the opposing pitcher,” Semien said. “Duran has been unbelievable, just with the swings he's putting on pretty good pitches. You look at what he did yesterday, almost a center-field home run and then he hit the home run on a slow changeup today. He's a weapon for us.” 

The Rangers’ offense as a whole stepped up in a big way in the month without Seager, too.

When Seager was out from April 12-May 16, the Rangers led the Majors with 195 runs. The next closest team was the Rays at 185. In that span, Texas was also in the top five in almost every offensive category, including batting average (.272), on-base percentage (.343), slugging (.449) and wRC+ (119).

“No one person can ever carry a lineup,” Seager said the day he returned. “You can maybe win a game once, but it's not an extended amount of time kind of thing. So just to watch us one through nine and how we worked was really impressive.”

That may be true, but one person can definitely stretch out an already good lineup. With Seager back in the two-hole, Duran, who is slashing .315/.350/.538 on the season, will likely get a considerable amount of time in left field and even at DH. 

Robbie Grossman is the only everyday position player hitting under .255, and two other potential starters in outfielder Travis Jankowski and catcher Mitch Garver are well on their way back from the injured list as well.  

“It’s just throughout the lineup,” Bochy said. “It’s been fun to watch how these guys are all doing something. Somebody throughout the lineup is doing something that’ll win a ballgame or get ahead a big score. It's a deep lineup, and it's contagious with these guys.”