Corey Seager in the 6th inning had to be removed from the game when he pulled up to second base with what is being described as left hamstring tightness. The Royals were playing a shift on Seager and he punished the Royals for that formation by hitting it to the left-field corner. No one was there and Seager was going to be able to walk to third base. As he rounded first and came to second he slowed down and pulled up to second and immediately grabbed his hamstring. The trainer ran out and Seager was immediately removed from the game. Josh Smith was brought in to play shortstop. A few questions will need to be answered soon. First, who plays shortstop? Second, who comes up to take his roster spot once he is placed on the injured list(IL)? Third, how long will Seager be out? Fourth, how will Seager's injury impact the lineup construction?
First Question: Who Plays Shortstop
The first question is who plays shortstop. The team has two options. Josh Smith and Ezequiel Duran can play shortstop and Smith has been the backup shortstop. Bochy even mentioned in his postgame presser about putting Smith and Duran there for the time being. It seems in the immediate aftermath of tonight's walk-off win that is where the team is leaning. Things could change before the first pitch tomorrow.
The second option is Marcus Semien slides over from second to play shortstop. He played the position for years prior to moving to second base with the Blue Jays. Semien can hold down the position while Seager is out. That will open up second base which could be played by a platoon consisting of Smith and Duran. Whatever happens it will likely be a combination of those three players holding down the middle infield until Seager comes back.
The Second Question: Who Replaces Seager on the Roster?
The second question is who comes up once Seager is placed on the IL. Leody Taveras is in Round Rock currently on a rehab assignment. They could decide to bring him up immediately. He is not a shortstop obviously, but with Smith and Duran on the roster, they don't necessarily need another infielder.
If they do decide to call up an infielder, Luisangel Acuna and Jonathan Ornelas are both on the 40-man roster. They can come up and provide depth, but playing time might be scarce. I am not sure if they want to bring them into a situation where their playing time is not going to be as much as it is in Triple-A Round Rock or Double-A Frisco. Plus, this team is still trying to win games. They are not in the developmental mode that they were in the last two seasons.
Third Question: How long will Seager be out?
The third question is how long will Seager be out. That one is unknown at this time. The Rangers have said they are going to continue evaluating and I am sure they will have further updates on his status once they further examine him. In June 2019 he strained the same left hamstring and missed almost an entire month with the injury. That was a strain though and at this point this injury is being deemed hamstring tightness. No clue on how long he will be out.
Final Question: How does this impact lineup construction?
The final question is how does this impact the lineup construction for manager Bruce Bochy. Seager since signing with Texas has primarily served as the number two hitter behind Semien. The easiest solution to this would moving Semien into that two hole in front of Lowe, but then who hits leadoff.
They do have an outfielder who in 2021 began the season in that role. It did not go well in April 2021 and he was eventually sent down. It might be time to give Leody Taveras another shot at the leadoff spot. He can get on-base, create havoc once there, and does have decent power. If not him then Josh Smith could be a candidate. Smith takes good at-bats, doesn't have much power, but he does make contact. If Semien is to move down then Taveras is the right guy.
All of these are possibly solutions . I will say that it is a major hit and not having Seager in that lineup is going to make scoring runs more difficult. There is a reason why he got the big contract and it is because he is a shortstop that can hit with power and spray the ball all over the field. The team has to take next man up thinking.
This will certainly be Bochy's first big test as manager of the Rangers. He has to make sure this team that has gotten off to a surprising 7-4 start can continue to play at this level. This is not a pitching injury and so the rotation should not see any dip in production. They just have to figure out how they are going to score runs on offense. Until we see how this team will react I want to leave you with this.