Chris Taylor’s offseason surgery hopefully won’t upend Dodgers’ infield plans
Another injury update out of left field! Can these stop, please? The season’s far too close to make Los Angeles Dodgers fans feel any sort of uneasy when expectations for the 2022 campaign are now sky-high after Clayton Kershaw’s return and the addition of Freddie Freeman.
But this week fans learned that superstar utilityman Chris Taylor underwent elbow surgery (on his throwing arm) in the offseason in what was described as a “clean up” procedure. And this is when we find out?! Two weeks before Opening Day?!
Apparently, though, Taylor is doing just fine. In fact, he’s doing better! He said that he no longer wakes up with a tight bicep, which was apparently a symptom of his elbow issue, and he started at second base on Tuesday in the team’s spring training game against the Reds.
Taylor went 1-for-2 and turned a double play with Trea Turner. Seems like nothing to worry about, especially if the Dodgers are already throwing him out there to play both sides of the ball.
Dodgers slugger Chris Taylor revealed he underwent offseason surgery
But this is worth keeping an eye on because of Max Muncy’s situation. The now-displaced first baseman has yet to appear in any spring action as he recovers from a partially-torn UCL in his elbow that was suffered in Game 162 back in October.
With Muncy on the mend, the obvious plan was for him to start the season at DH to get eased back into action with Freeman at first and Taylor at second. Muncy can play first, second and third, so there’s going to be plenty of variations for manager Dave Roberts to use throughout the year, but any potential persistent injury issues with Taylor and/or Muncy will upend the Dodgers’ plan to sport the league’s best infield.
Whether it’s Freeman/Muncy at first, Taylor/Muncy at second, Trea Turner/Taylor at shortstop, or Justin Turner/Muncy/Taylor at third, that combination of five players should be on the field at all times with one of them DHing. If not, the picture begins to get a bit more grim with Gavin Lux, Edwin Rios or Matt Beaty.
So far, so good. Muncy is getting the rest he needs and Taylor is already back in action. But recovery from elbow injuries/surgeries isn’t always the smoothest. Remember Corey Seager’s? It wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but he made 15 errors in 132 games following Tommy John and logged a career-low .967 fielding percentage for a full season’s worth of action. The recovery is usually smoother for position players thankfully, but you never know what can happen. Yankees pitcher Zack Britton had surgery to remove bone chips in his throwing elbow last spring and then needed Tommy John surgery at the end of the 2021 season.
The on-paper version of the Dodgers has fans rightfully giddy, but it’s best to contain that excitement until we see more of Taylor and Muncy is able to take the field again.