Corey Seager slipped inside an MRI tube Monday morning at a Phoenix hospital. His right elbow had ached over the weekend after a “few bad throws that really irritated me,” he said. He hoped the examination would only reveal more of the bone chips and inflammation that had bothered him since last summer. The actual diagnosis delivered far more devastating consequences for Seager and the Dodgers.
Soon after he left the MRI tube, Seager joined a conference call with general manager Farhan Zaidi, manager Dave Roberts and team physician Neal ElAttrache. There was only one option for his sprained ulnar collateral ligament. Seager would undergo ligament-replacement surgery, a procedure that will rob the Dodgers of their two-time All-Star shortstop for the duration of 2018 and jeopardized his readiness for the start of 2019.
ElAttrache is scheduled to perform the surgery Friday. The Dodgers hope Seager, 24, can resume baseball activities by next spring and be ready by opening day. Until then, the team will improvise without one of their cornerstones and attempt to salvage a season that is swiftly spiraling.
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Zaidi defended the organization’s decision not to recommend surgery for Seager over the offseason. Seager had complained of elbow discomfort throughout the second half of 2017. By August, his elbow hurt every time he threw the baseball. The MRI exams on the ligament did not show enough damage to merit a procedure, Zaidi said.
“Where we were in the calendar at the time, it made sense to take a conservative approach, and see if that would alleviate the symptoms,” Zaidi said. “It obviously worked for a while. Things deteriorated now to the point where it’s clearly surgical.”
Seager has dealt with injuries throughout his brief big league career. He tweaked a knee in the spring of 2016. He sat out a playoff series in October because of a back strain. He began this season with his elbow as a significant cause for concern.