Red Sox All-Star Mookie Betts is and has been regarded as one of the best outfielders in baseball for years now, and that was on full display this past week in the American League Championship Series.
Despite that, conversation at Fenway Park, where light workouts were taking place on Saturday, mostly revolved around the position Betts grew up playing, second base.
Yes, the former 2011 fifth round pick signed out of high school rose through Boston’s farm system as a second baseman, and it wasn’t until 2014 when he was moved to the outfield in order to make his path to the majors a little more simpler with Dustin Pedoria regularly patrolling second at the time.
That all transpired when Betts was still at the Double A level with the Portland Sea Dogs. On June 28th of that same year, the Tennessee native was promoted to Boston from Triple A Pawtucket and his made his highly touted debut the following day against the New York Yankees, starting in right field.
Since then, according to Baseball Reference, Betts has played in 644 major league games, with 15 of those coming at second and the other 629 coming in the outfield with a little bit of DH mixed in there as well.
As recently as August 3rd of the 2018 regular season, the 26-year-old appeared in a game as a second baseman once again, in another game against the New York.
With Alex Cora already ejected and Ian Kinsler having exited in the third inning due to a left hamstring strain, acting manager and current Red Sox bench coach Ron Roenicke seemingly asked Betts if he would move over to second for the remainder of that night’s contest.
“I don’t know if [Roenicke] told me [to play second],” Betts said. I kind of asked if I could play second. He asked if I was sure and I said, ‘yeah.’ I went and got an infield glove. He told me I was at second, and before I went out on the field I went up and asked him if he wanted me to go to second. He said yeah, so at that point, I was running. I wasn’t sure that he really wanted me to go to second, so I ran out there.”
Pretty funny exchange, really.
So, Betts went out to his old position, made a few nice plays, and moved back out to right field in the eighth before finishing the night 1/4 at the plate.
We haven’t seen the three-time All-Star back at the positon since that time in early August, but that could change come Game Three of the World Series.
When asked by reporters about keeping JD Martinez, the usual DH, in the lineup while the team is playing at a National League ballpark, the hypothetical idea of Betts moving back to second base was brought up by Red Sox manager Alex Cora.
“I don’t know, man. He already played second in the regular season. There’s always a chance, I guess.”
What Cora did make clear, though, is that his league leader in RBI will play everyday.
“We’ve got some pretty good second basemen, we’ve got some pretty good outfielders,” Cora said. “Like I said, we’re in the World Series. That conversation was gonna come up. One thing for sure, J.D. will play. That’s clear. We’ll see which alignment is better, which lineup is better and we’ll make decisions accordingly.”
The World Series is set to begin this upcoming Tuesday night at Fenway Park, and it’s looking like the Red Sox will match up against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Stay tuned for more coverage.
Quotes via MassLive.com