GLENDALE, Ariz. — Gavin Lux will not be playing shortstop – or any other position – for the Dodgers in 2023.
Lux suffered tears to the anterior cruciate ligament and lateral collateral ligament when he stumbled while running the bases during Monday’s Cactus League game against the San Diego Padres. He will have surgery on his right knee and miss the entire season.
“It’s heartbreaking, you know,” Lux said, leaning on crutches Tuesday morning, his voice cracking and holding back tears as he spoke to reporters. “You put in a lot of time and work and really enjoy the guys in the clubhouse … the hardest part is just not being able to be on the field, for sure.”
Dr. Neal ElAttrache will perform the knee surgery in Los Angeles on March 7.
“Gavin is obviously crushed,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Tuesday morning at Camelback Ranch. “It’s a huge blow, my heart just goes out to him.”
Once the top-rated prospect in baseball as he progressed through the Dodgers’ system, Lux was asked to play second base for the Dodgers with first Corey Seager and then Trea Turner at shortstop. When Turner left via free agency this past winter, the Dodgers planned to move Lux back to his original position and make him their everyday shortstop.
Miguel Rojas will replace Lux as the primary shortstop. An exceptional defender, Rojas was acquired in a trade with the Miami Marlins this winter. Rojas had been the Marlins’ everyday shortstop the past four seasons but was slated to play a utility role for the Dodgers.
“For me, the first thing that I felt was really pain for Gavin,” Rojas said. “A young kid that has been working his ass off to get ready for the season to be the everyday shortstop for this team. He’s a big part of this club. I just feel bad for him that he has to go through whatever he’s going to have to go through.
“What it means for me is what I’ve been preparing for. I’ve been playing shortstop every day for the last four or five years of my career. I went into the offseason thinking I was going to have to prepare for 162 games and here it is.”
Rojas, 34, is an improvement over Lux defensively at shortstop, but he does not offer as much on the offensive side. The 25-year-old Lux seemed to be coming into his own as a hitter last season, posting career highs in average (.276), on-base percentage (.346) and OPS (.745).
“I think there’s more in there offensively than there has been the last two years,” Roberts said of Rojas. “It’s the defense that’s the primary focus, and I felt that way with Gavin as well at shortstop, taking on that position. (Rojas) is gonna be at the bottom of the order and be a leader and put together good at-bats. But it’s not gonna be his job to carry us offensively. We expect that professional at-bat. And I think with the information we have and the game prep, I still believe there’s a lot more than there has been the last two years.”
Roberts also mentioned Chris Taylor will begin working more on the infield in spring games so that he would also be an option to fill in at shortstop. Like Lux, shortstop was Taylor’s original position before the Dodgers converted him to a multi-position role. Taylor did not start a game on the infield last season, though, after undergoing elbow surgery following the 2021 season.
“I talked to Chris and he’s 100 percent healthy,” Roberts said, adding that Taylor’s throwing program would change if he’s preparing for an infield role. “He’s aware of that. He feels confident in that, so now bouncing around from short to potentially play a little bit of third base if he needs to spell Max (Muncy), and then play a little left field. We’re confident that he can do that.”
Using Taylor – and Mookie Betts at second base, also mentioned by Roberts – as infield depth could open up playing time in the outfield for a group jockeying for spots. Jason Heyward and Trayce Thompson are expected to be on the Opening Day roster. Steven Duggar, James Outman and Bradley Zimmer are also in the mix.
If the Dodgers look outside the organization for shortstop help, veteran Jose Iglesias is an unsigned free agent. A trade for someone like Brewers shortstop Willy Adames was the subject of speculation during the offseason and will likely resurface.