Can Dodgers keep Mookie Betts away from second base after Gavin Lux injury?
All winter long, Los Angeles Dodgers outfield stalwart Mookie Betts has been lobbying manager Dave Roberts to give him reps at second base, the position at which he initially rose through the ranks with the Red Sox before everyone looked around and went, "........wait, are you kidding me, we're constricting an athletic talent like this to the infield?!"
Prior to the catastrophic Gavin Lux injury that shook up the Dodgers' infield picture this week, it already seemed as if Betts had successfully chipped away at the iceberg a little bit, forcing Roberts to relent in recent weeks and acknowledge the chance that he'd try his star right fielder on the infield dirt.
The issue, of course, is that Betts is innately more valuable when he's given more ground to cover. Additionally, while the Dodgers' infield picture remains uncertain, it's not as if the outfield is overflowing and full of guarantees. Betts was supposed to be the anchor, not another moving piece. James Outman, Trayce Thompson, Jason Heyward and Chris Taylor could all receive reps, but none of them can be written in ink like Betts.
And yet, all along, he's seemingly dreamt of being shifted -- especially now that the position requires an additional dash of athleticism, post-shift ban. If the Dodgers were already giving way to Betts' demands, it seems unlikely they'll be able to keep him away from the infield now.
Dodgers outfield superstar Mookie Betts has been begging to go back to second base
It was just over a week ago that Betts last agitated for some time at second base, as he relayed to Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic:
"I talk to them all the time about it. But eventually … I don’t know. They pay me to play right, and they said stay in right. After that? It kind of is what it is."- Mookie Betts, via Fabian Ardaya
Now, in the wake of Lux's injury, Roberts has admitted that Chris Taylor will be adjusting his preparation and pivoting to shortstop, starting a throwing program (at a time that feels ... dangerously late in the game, potentially).
And, yes, Betts will also receive consideration for some second base reps.
The "incumbent" at second? Miguel Vargas, of course, a natural third baseman who has rarely played the position in the minors, and who we hadn't considered for second until Andrew Friedman dropped a bomb on us in January. Even the Dodgers' "Plan A" comes pre-loaded with worry.
It's clear why Betts so desperately wants to play second. It's also clear why the Dodgers might press the panic button now, especially if the outfield outperforms the infield in camp.
Perhaps it's not (gulp) the worst idea. At the very least, Betts shifting to second feels like a safer use of talent than Taylor trying to stretch himself out and hand in a "How I Learned to Be a Shortstop" term paper 15 minutes before the due date.