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Gavin Lux is out for the season with a torn ACL. What that means for the Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Dodgers shortstop Gavin Lux has a torn ACL in his right knee, manager Dave Roberts told reporters Tuesday, after receiving results of an MRI exam. He’s expected to miss the entire 2023 season.

Lux suffered the injury running the bases in the sixth inning on Monday against the Padres, and had to be carted off the field.

On SportsNet LA after the game, Roberts told Kirsten Watson the injury was “outside of the right knee, something lateral.” A short time later, Roberts told reporters Lux felt something pop in his knee, per Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times.

It’s a huge blow for Lux, who was back at shortstop — his original position — this year after playing mostly second base in the majors behind with Corey Seager then Trea Turner at short. Lux struggled his first two seasons, but thrived at the plate in 2022, hitting .276/.346/.399 with a 113 wRC+ and a league-leading seven triples, earning 3.0 fWAR and 2.5 bWAR.

Recent ACL tears

ACL tears are long-term injuries, as the Baseball Prospectus injury timeline tool shows. Andrew McCutchen missed the final 103 games in 2019 and wouldn’t have been ready until at least April of 2020, before the pandemic delayed the start of that season. Ronald Acuña Jr. missed 93 games through the end of 2021 and the start of 2022.

Three middle infielders last year suffered ACL tears, all ending their seasons. Danny Mendick missed the final 95 games for the White Sox, and Adalberto Mondesí missed 147 games for the Royals. Royce Lewis missed the final 114 games last year, and he won’t play for the Twins until at lest May 29 this season after getting placed on the 60-day injured list on Sunday.

The roster

The Lux injury adds more weight to the addition of Miguel Rojas, the veteran who was expected to fill in around the infield but no figures to see much more time at shortstop, the position he’s played regularly the last six years.

In the immediate future, Rojas will start at shortstop as planned on Tuesday, Roberts said after Rojas showed no ill effects from the right foot cramp he suffered on Sunday. Chris Taylor, who has started 151 games at shortstop in his seven seasons with the Dodgers, is also likely to see some time there in addition to his outfield work.

“Even if it’s shorter term, I think that having CT come in the infield a little more probably makes some sense,” Roberts told Watson on SportsNet LA Monday.

Among the other major-league-ready players on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster, Yonny Hernández is the only other one with shortstop experience, starting 190 games at the position in the minors and four more games in the majors, compared to his 287 starts at second base in the minors and majors combined.

In terms of a potential roster spot opening up with Lux out, it doesn’t necessarily mean another shortstop would be added. But Taylor potentially playing more shortstop means less time in the outfield, so perhaps instead of Jason Heyward, James Outman, Steven Duggar, and Bradley Zimmer fighting for one roster spot, they might be battling for two spots.

Or the Dodgers could — and probably should — bring someone else in from outside the organization. That’s what the next month is for, to sort all this out before opening day.