Mookie Betts is one of the best outfielders in Major League Baseball, but that doesn’t stop him from wanting to play in the infield with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Originally drafted by the Boston Red Sox as a second baseman, Betts changed positions to right field because he was blocked by former All-Star Dustin Pedroia. Betts was a natural fit in right field, and the position stuck, which has led to him winning multiple Gold Gloves and an American League MVP Award.
As he prepares to join Team USA for the 2023 World Baseball Classic, Betts is part of a star-studded roster that features an elite outfield group, including Mike Trout, Kyle Tucker, Kyle Schwarber and Cedric Mullins.
Because of the depth Team USA has in the outfield, it’s likely Betts will get to play some second base for the United States, and before he joins them will see reps there with the Dodgers as well, according to Jack Harris of The L.A. Times:
“I think he’s gonna play a couple games [at second base],” Roberts said, adding that he’ll try giving Betts a couple Cactus League starts there before he leaves camp to join the U.S. team.
Among the other options Team USA has to play second base are Jeff McNeil, Tim Anderson, Trea Turner and Bobby Witt. McNeil is the only one who primarily plays second of that group.
Team USA could utilize Betts in a platoon with McNeil, while giving the Dodgers All-Star starts in right field against right-handed pitchers and at second base against left-handers.
Of Betts’ 319 games played for the Dodgers, he has made 286 appearances in right field and only 15 at second base, plus another 31 in center field. With the Red Sox, he only appeared at second base 15 times.
Still, it’s something Betts has pushed for often and talks to the coaches and front office about it. The Dodgers aren’t completely opposed to getting him more time in the infield, as manager Dave Roberts has acknowledged it’s a means of helping ease the workload.
Mookie Betts added muscle after visit to Driveline Baseball
Betts made his way up to Driveline Baseball in Seattle, where he worked on hitting and other drills. The data-driven training facility was established in 2008 and has continued to grow in popularity as its approaches become more mainstream.
“My employer told me I need to go, so that’s how I ended up there,” Betts said with a smile.
The takeaway from his experience was Betts needed to gain weight by adding muscle to his frame.
“That’s pretty much it,” he said. “Just continue to play the same game I’ve been playing and get a little stronger. I think I’ve gained about eight or nine pounds so far. We’ll see how it works.”
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