Mookie Betts makes 1st career appearance at SS
CHICAGO — On Wednesday night, Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts was sleeping in a hospital room in California. Twenty-four hours later — after the arrival of his new baby boy — he was playing shortstop for the first time in his career after arriving at Wrigley Field during the first inning of the Dodgers’ eventual 6-2 win over the Chicago Cubs.
“It was like a dream come true,” Betts said afterward. “I got drafted as a shortstop and hadn’t seen it since like 2011. I’m happy we won.”
Betts pinch hit in the top of the seventh inning for Luke Williams, singling to right field before taking over at shortstop for the rest of the game.
His first play was a big one. With the game tied 2-2 in the bottom of the eighth, the Cubs had runners on first and second with no outs when Patrick Wisdom hit a ground ball behind second base. Betts grabbed it, stepped on second and made a jump throw to first for the 6-3 double play.
“He made it look really easy and athletic,” manager Dave Roberts said.
Betts added: “Grew up doing this, so it’s not new to me. It’s new to everyone else.”
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The Dodgers took the lead in the ninth on a James Outman grand slam, his second home run of the game. It came after starter Michael Grove had to leave in the fourth inning because of a groin strain, which first occurred when he slipped in the bullpen during warm-ups. He’ll undergo testing on Friday and be placed on the injured list.
“It was a 3 out of 10, but you’re talking about a pitcher,” Roberts said of the injury. “He assured us he was good to go but in that fourth inning, felt it again. We just wanted to pull the plug right there.”
Grove didn’t feel the injury was serious either.
“It’s nothing crazy,” he stated. “Just a little groin issue.”
Roberts didn’t discount the possibility of bringing righty Tony Gonsolin (ankle) back from his rehab stint to fill Grove’s spot nor did he indicate Betts would be heading back to the outfield.
“I think that’s his goal in life, to be a major league shortstop,” Roberts said with a smile. “I could see it happening more.”
In fact, with Miguel Rojas (hamstring) on the IL and Gavin Lux (ACL) lost for the season, Betts might find himself in the infield a lot more. He was asked if he had any nerves playing the position for the first time in a decade.
“A lot of nerves but you embrace it,” he answered. “You learn to play nervous. If I wasn’t nervous that probably means I don’t love it. … I don’t care where I play. I just want to win.”