Mookie Betts Embracing ‘Pressure’ Of Being Dodgers Starting Shortstop

The Los Angeles Dodgers made a significant change to their infield defense when they swapped Mookie Betts and Gavin Lux in the middle infield.

Betts was originally slated to be the Dodgers’ second baseman while Lux handled shortstop, but those roles are now reversed. Lux has struggled at shortstop throughout Spring Training so far and he has been unable to complete any throws accurately, a problem that still continued with his move to second base.

Betts has limited experience at shortstop, but he did play there 16 times during the 2023 season in what was his only MLB experience at the position. The 31-year-old also played 13 games at shortstop when he was a 19-year-old at Single-A in 2012, and he played one game there the year prior.

Although the Dodgers are putting a lot of pressure on Betts, he’s ready to embrace the challenge, he said via Juan Toribio of

“It’s definitely a change. But it’s fun, too,” Betts said. “You can’t make it more pressure. It’s always a lot of pressure — especially going and being a Dodger, it’s a lot of pressure. So being a Dodger, being the shortstop for the Dodgers, is a lot of pressure. But I like it.”

To say the Dodgers have high expectations for the 2024 season might be downplaying it. They are favored to lead MLB in wins and the favorites to win the World Series, but after spending more than $1 billion in the offseason to add Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, even losing one game feels like it would be a disappointment.

Of course the Dodgers are going to lose games in 2024, but how many of those loses were due to their inability to find a shortstop is something that will be highlighted.

If Betts can play adequate defense, that would go a long way in solving some of their worries. If he can’t, Miguel Rojas may have to take over as the everyday shortstop, or a trade for someone such as Willy Adames could become a necessity.

Betts graded out as roughly a league-average second baseman in 2023, and it’s fair to expect his performance may take a further drop at a more difficult position that he has minimal experience at.

That’s not to say Betts won’t be able to handle it, but the Dodgers would be wise to prepare fallback options as well and continue their discussions for possible upgrades outside the organization.

Mookie Betts offered encouragement to Gavin Lux

After their position change, Betts made sure to offer some encouragement about the overall goal remaining unchanged and told his double play partner not to worry about it.

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