General manager Jed Hoyer pointed to the positive side of Starlin Castro's season-threatening high left ankle sprain in that his All-Star shortstop didn't suffer a fracture or torn ligaments or tendons.
Nevertheless, Castro's season is likely done, although Hoyer said they would allow Castro, 24, to return if he makes an unlikely quick recovery.
"We're operating under the assumption he's going to be out for the rest of the year," Hoyer said after an MRI and other tests confirmed the sprain, suffered Tuesday night during a slide at home plate. "We're not going to shut him down. He's going to work hard to come back. I think his mentality right now is he can beat four weeks and come back. We're not going to defeat that. If nothing else, that will put him into the off-season healthy and ready to go."
Manager Rick Renteria said Castro was in good spirits and said, "I'll be back," although one witness said Castro showed difficulty moving as he went to receive treatment Wednesday.
Castro likely finishes the season with a .292 batting average, 14 home runs and 65 RBIs to the satisfaction of Hoyer and Renteria.
Javier Baez will move from second to shortstop -- his natural position -- but Hoyer stressed that Castro remains the primary shortstop once he returns.
"He's our shortstop," Hoyer said. "There's a reason we have Javy playing second base right now. The nice thing is we have depth at a position that few people have depth at. Right now our shortstop goes down and we feel very comfortable. We're not in a pennant race, but if we were, most teams lose a shortstop and they're scrambling."
Logan Watkins will start most of the time at second base, with Arismendy Alcantara occasionally moving from center field to shortstop against left-handed pitchers.
And for the second consecutive off-season, Castro -- who has been hampered by hamstring issues in spring training -- likely will work out with strength/conditioning coordinator Tim Buss.
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