The Los Angeles Dodgers activated Mookie Betts off the 10-day injured list and optioned Eddy Alvarez to Triple-A Oklahoma City prior to the series finale against the San Diego Padres.
Betts had been on the IL since June 19, which was the result of a fractured right rib he sustained while colliding with Cody Bellinger on June 15. Betts was scratched from the lineup in each of the next two games and an MRI revealed the fracture.
The Dodgers set his timeline for two weeks to return, and for a moment it seemed like he was going to need more time, but Betts then turned a corner and resumed baseball activities.
On Saturday, Betts took live at-bats off Caleb Ferguson and Ian Gibaut, ran the bases and did some infield practice, which included throwing, fielding ground balls and turning double plays.
Because the injured rib is in a spot that doesn’t move, the chances to injure it further are slim, so at this point getting back on the field is “pretty much just pain tolerance,” Betts said.
Betts added that the pain has quieted a lot since he first sustained the injury, which is why he’s now able to return to the field.
“I didn’t play then and I’m close to playing now, so obviously night and day difference,” he said. “At that point I couldn’t swing. It was hurting to breathe, doing everyday activities. And now, moving around is pretty normal.”
In 60 games this season, Betts is hitting .273/.349/.535 with a .380 wOBA, 147 wRC+, 17 home runs and 3.3 WAR.
For Alvarez, he returns to Triple-A after hitting .160/.154/.160 with a .136 wOBA, -16 wRC+ and -0.5 WAR in 14 games. The 32-year-old has been a versatile piece for the Dodgers bench, appearing in five games each at third base and right field, while also making two appearances as the designated hitter and one as a shortstop and left fielder.
The Dodgers originally selected the contract of Alvarez on June 3 when it was reveled Edwin Ríos suffered a hamstring tear. Because of his versatility and speed, there’s a good chance Alvarez will be back with the club at some point this season.
Betts will play right field despite plans to play him at second base
The Dodgers originally planned to play Betts at second base to help take some of the stress off his body and prevent him from making long throws, but that changed during the game on Saturday.
Chris Taylor, who has been among those filling in for Betts in right field, was removed from the game due to a left foot contusion and he is expected to be miss the series finale at Dodger Stadium.
Because of that, Betts will likely start in right field during his return, according to Roberts. The skipper also said prior to the game that Betts was “really close” to being able to play the outfield full-time again.
“He’s just such a quick healer,” Roberts said. “He stretched it out a couple of days ago, and to be quite honest, said that he could play right field if he needed to.”
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