The Los Angeles Dodgers are currently 9-10 with a plus-19 run differential, and they sit just two games behind the NL West leading Arizona Diamondbacks. But in order to keep pace manager Dave Roberts is expected to do something out of the norm. With his team dealing with a lot of injuries, Roberts has mentioned moving all-world outfielder Mookie Betts to shortstop when the six-time All-Star and 2018 AL MVP returns from paternity leave.
Betts, the ninth-ranked player in all of MLB coming into the 2023 season, is no stranger to playing shortstop although he hasn’t played the position since 2011 when he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox. He was moved to second base in 2013, and in 2014 to the outfield with the “BoSox” set in their infield with Xander Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said that Mookie Betts could play shortstop tomorrow, per @juanctoribio
Betts has not played shortstop in his MLB career pic.twitter.com/gozsr3KmXg
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) April 19, 2023
Roberts Is Confident In His Superstar
With the Dodgers decimated by injuries last season, Betts played 30 games at second base. He’s been at second base five games this season, so for a player of Betts caliber moving over to shortstop should be a seamless transition. Roberts believes it will be. The World Series-winning skipper had this to say about the possible move.
“There’s a chance I might slide him over to shortstop. He looks extremely natural. The guy can play anywhere on the baseball field,” Roberts told MLB.com. “I think there were some reservations about him playing second base last year and he quickly put those to bed. So it’s going to be the same thing.”
Mookie Betts taking ground balls at shortstop from this past weekend #Dodgers
— Doug McKain (@DMAC_LA) April 19, 2023
Roberts has the utmost confidence in his best player, and he should when you consider all that Betts offers the Dodgers on a daily basis. From the swag to the skill and just pure enjoyment he plays with, Betts spirit and love for the game is infectious and his teammates feed off of it.
The MLB Network crew raved about Betts’ potential at the position. As far as outfielder’s go, he’s among the elite, maybe the best. Betts leads all MLB outfielders in Defensive Runs Saved (95) since the start of the 2017 season.
What always wowed me with Mookie is if you look at his throwing motion, he never got away from that infielder’s throwing motion,” said analyst and former MLB player Chris Young. He’s able to still generate enough power on his throws to be able to be on time (in the outfield) and extremely accurate.”
“I see him being a very good option (at shortstop.)”
Roberts Says We Could Do Much Worse
No manager wants to have to use a player who’s never played an MLB game at arguably the game’s hardest position excluding catcher. When you’re down multiple guys at such a vital position, and to have Betts be able to fill-in, you have to like your chances for success. It’s a blessing to have a superstar player who can be used as a utility-type player, when need be, and it’s something Roberts isn’t taking for granted.
“I think when you’re talking about the third string at any position, there’s some things that have to happen that you got to kind of get through. But to have Mookie as your third string at anything, I think teams can be doing a lot worse,” Roberts told MLB.com.” … He’s been clamoring for quite some time, so we’ll see how it plays out.”
No worries if anyone can do it, it’s Markus Lynn Betts aka “MOOKIE.”
This season Betts is batting (.266) with two homers and six RBI. The Dodgers fell to the Mets by a score of 5-3 in his absence on Wednesday.