Dodgers News: Miguel Rojas Acting As Defensive Mentor To Dodgers Infielders

One of the biggest storylines to come out of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ camp during Spring Training was their questionable infield defense considering they planned to start first-time shortstop making the transition from the outfield, a second baseman coming off a torn ACL, and a third baseman whose defense has never been their calling card.

Gavin Lux was the Dodgers projected shortstop heading into this season, but looked very uncomfortable playing the position during his first opportunities. The news that the Dodgers were making the decision to move Lux back to second base and make Mookie Betts their new shortstop was surprising to say the least.

Max Muncy was again slotted in to be the team’s starting third baseman, where he has mostly been since the Dodgers signed Freddie Freeman in 2022. Muncy worked on his defense over the offseason after a 2023 season that saw him make 16 errors at third base, but got off to a slow start as well.

After taking their lumps in 2024, all three players have come a long way since Spring Training and a lot of that has to do with the behind the scenes work and leadership of Miguel Rojas.

“Mookie (Betts) would be the first to tell you that if it wasn’t for Miguel, he wouldn’t be where he’s at right now,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “And I think that for Muncy in this particular situation, or Lux, seeing a player like Rojas pride himself so much on defense and getting off the ball, throwing it over accurately and having the intensity and focus, that’s contagious.

“And defense is his hallmark, so I think that certainly helps make it that much more important for our guys.”

Betts seems to look more and more like a natural shortstop with every passing day, and it is truly an astounding feat and testament to his talent and Rojas’ willingness to help Betts learn the nuances of the position.

Lux looked more comfortable at second base ever since making the change during Spring Training and that has carried forward into the regular season where he has been elite in the field. It is what has allowed him to continue to be penciled into the lineup, despite his offensive struggles.

Dodgers investment in Rojas is paying dividends

The Dodgers are getting a lot more value than what they paid for when they traded for Rojas and signed him to a 2-year, $11 million extension. Rojas took over as the starter in 2023 following the injury to Lux, and he provided reliable defense throughout the season.

His role has since diminished in 2024, but the Dodgers are still getting great value on his contract thanks to Rojas’ team first mentality.

“He just sort of assumed that on his own. And I think that I give him a lot of credit because understanding your role on a ballclub is really important. Everyone wants to play every day, but to feel that you can do things to be additive and help your teammates out and help us win baseball games, he’s done that,” Roberts said.