With Mookie Betts on the 10-day injured list for at least two weeks, the Los Angeles Dodgers turned to Eddy Alvarez on Sunday for only his second career start in right field.
While much of the attention went to how the Dodgers lineup would manage without Betts in the leadoff spot — even if he has been mired in a slump — his absence defensively wound up moving into the spotlight.
Alvarez dropped a routine fly ball in the second inning and two batters later misread another. That left runners at the corners with one out and led to the Cleveland Guardians taking an early lead.
“I had a terrible read on the first one and coming in, eyes were bobbing a lot,” Alvarez said after the Dodgers’ 5-3 loss. “I thought I had it in my glove but it didn’t stick.”
Alvarez then came up empty on a diving catch attempt in the ninth inning, which was eventually followed by the Guardians scoring two runs against Craig Kimbrel to take a decided lead.
“It’s my second time playing right field and just like my fifth game in the outfield, but I hold myself accountable for a lot of the runs scored,” Alvarez said. “I hold myself to a high standard.
“I didn’t realize how tough it was to read the ball off the bat in the daytime, just the way the sun hits the chairs. I’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Alvarez added he’d never had to fight so much sun in any game, but that wasn’t intended to be an excuse.
“It’s a tough situation to be put in, but it’s a situation I want to be put in,” he said. “I want to be out there again the next game. I’m just that kind of guy and player. This one was definitely on me.”
Alvarez spoke with Betts after his error in the second inning and intends to implement the advice he received. Andrew Heaney, who allowed two runs (one earned) over five-plus innings, gave Alvarez a pat in the dugout after the misplay.
Dave Roberts defends Eddy Alvarez
Despite his minimal experience in the outfield — much less right field — Alvarez received the nod over the likes of Zach McKinstry and Chris Taylor.
“I wanted Eddy to take some at-bats, and got to look at where to put him in the outfield, C.T. hasn’t played a whole lot of right field either, so I made that decision,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts explained. “It’s certainly not Eddy’s fault. He hasn’t played right field.
“I wanted to get his bat in there. The last play was a tough play. I know he’d like to have the error back, but this is a tough sun field. He’s doing the best he can. I’m sure he said it was on him, but if it’s on anyone, it would be on me. He’s doing the best he can.”
Roberts also noted McKinstry arrived at Dodger Stadium not long before first pitch of Sunday’s game.
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