Muncy felt tightness in his right side in a swing during his first-inning at-bat against Texas Rangers right-hander Mike Foltynewicz. Later in the at-bat, Muncy hit a two-run home run, the first of a season-high five homers for the Dodgers in Friday’s 12-1 win.
The Dodgers scored six runs and sent 10 batters to the plate in the first inning. Had they sent 11 batters to the plate, Muncy would not have batted a second time. Albert Pujols, who was going to hit for Muncy in the opening frame, instead took over at first base in the top of the second.
“I’m really hesitant to not say oblique, but that’s kind of where it was at,” manager Dave Roberts said Friday night. “We’ll see. Got ahead of it early in our opinion, in Max’s opinion.”
No testing was done on Friday night on either Muncy or Cody Bellinger, who felt tightness in his hamstring and left the game in the fifth inning. The Dodgers planned to wait to see how Muncy and Bellinger felt on Saturday before proceeding.
“Treat him up today, see if it continues to get better. The stiffness, hopefully is starts to dissipate a little bit. I think we’ll know more as time goes on,” Roberts said Saturday, about two hours before the IL move was made. “I think we got it early. He’s done it in the past, and it’s not as significant as before.”
Muncy has been the Dodgers’ best hitter this season, hitting .264/.418/.528, leading the team in home runs (14), on-base percentage, slugging percentage, wOBA (.431), wRC+ (162), and Wins Above Replacement — both the Baseball-Reference (3.3 WAR) and FanGraphs (2.7) versions. Muncy leads the National League with 46 walks, and rates as above-average defensively at both first base and second base.
An ankle injury suffered last Friday in Atlanta limited Muncy to only first base for the last week, though it progressed to the point where Muncy would have started at second base on Saturday, but his injury on Friday foiled those plans.
The Dodgers called up utility man Andy Burns earlier Saturday in a separate move, and the 30-year-old Burns is starting at second base on Saturday, the first major league start of his career.
The injuries come after the Dodgers had nearly their full complement of position players active, outside of shortstop Corey Seager, who could start a minor league rehab assignment within two weeks. In the last 14 days, the team welcomed back Bellinger, Zach McKinstry, and AJ Pollock after long-term injuries.
McKinstry missed 33 games over 5½ weeks with his right oblique strain, if you were wondering about a possible return timetable for Muncy.
“That’s baseball. That’s part of it,” Roberts said. “I’m going to kind of hold out hope that it’ll be short-term, if any missed time for both guys.”
The Dodgers recalled outfielder Luke Raley from Triple-A Oklahoma City to take Muncy’s place on the roster.