Dodgers News: Mookie Betts Unsure Of Cause For Slow Start

Mookie Betts was nothing sort of spectacular in his debut season with the Los Angeles Dodgers — albeit shortened due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic — as he finished second in National League MVP voting and played a pivotal role in helping the team end its World Series drought.

Betts’ second year in L.A. has not gone as smoothly, as he was hampered by several early injuries. The 28-year-old missed four games over a week’s time in April with lower back stiffness and admitted it likely had some impact on his play.

Betts also dealt with bruising and soreness after being hit by a pitch on the inside of the right forearm. He more recently battled through left shoulder soreness that prevented him from playing in the final two games of the Dodgers’ series at Oracle Park last week.

Betts, however, doesn’t want to use his recent injuries as an excuse for his slow start and believes he simply needs to play better, per Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:

“I don’t have any excuses. Sometimes you just don’t play well. I’m not here to say this is why or this, that and the other. You’ve just got to accept it. But the team is winning. I’m doing what I can to help. … It isn’t very much but a little goes a long way.”

Betts denies injuries are the explanation. He says the back injury that sidelined him for four games in April has gone away. The shoulder soreness that caused Dodgers manager Dave Roberts to scratch Betts from the lineup Sunday had bothered him for about two weeks but “wasn’t that big of a deal … No reason for my performance.” The back and shoulder issues are “just the nicks and bruises that kind of go on throughout the season that you just play through.”

Though Betts isn’t happy with his play, his 127 OPS+ entering Friday indicates he has performed better than league average this season. In 41 games, he owns a .248/.362/.442 batting line with 15 doubles, five home runs and 17 RBI over 196 plate appearances.

Betts additionally has been hitting for more power in the month of May, as evidenced by his .481 slugging percentage and .842 on-base plus slugging. Both of those are improvements from his April totals, as he slugged .405 and posted an OPS of .768.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts noted that he thinks Betts is turning a corner based on his recent at-bats. “I do,” Roberts said of Betts coming around.

“I think to barrel some balls, it was good. He’s been getting walks. The defense was elite, as it kind of always is. I do think Mookie is turning a corner as well.”

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