Short change with Mookie Betts already moving from second base to shortstop for Dodgers

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Los Angeles Dodgers' Mookie Betts (50) and Shohei Ohtani warm up on deck before a spring training baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday, March 8, 2024, in Phoenix. The game was canceled because of rain. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Mookie Betts is already switching spots in the infield for the Los Angeles Dodgers, moving to shortstop from second base.

Los Angeles planned for the six-time Gold Glove and seven-time All-Star outfielder to be the regular second baseman but shifted him to shortstop for Friday night's spring training game against Cincinnati. Manager Dave Roberts called the switch, 12 days before the opener, “permanent, for now.”

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“We’re all on the same page here. We don’t really care what happens, we just want to win,” Betts said. “As for me, I don’t care. I genuinely do not care. I’ve said it a million times, I just want to win. ... Put me wherever, it doesn’t matter. As long as I’m on the diamond. I going to do the best I can do.”

Expected shortstop Gavin Lux has struggled in the field, primarily with short-hop throws to first base. The Dodgers moved the 26-year-old back to second base, the position where he made 153 starts over four years. Given a chance to be the Dodgers' shortstop last year, Lux tore his right ACL while running the bases in a Feb. 27 spring training game and had season-ending surgery on March 7.

“Just to make this move right now, it’s something that the entire organization feels is the right thing to do to give us the best chance to prevent runs and to win baseball games,” Roberts said. “I think that, specific to Gavin, it gives him an opportunity to get to the other side of the diamond. ... So to get him back over there, shorten the throw, it should be less of a toll on his body overall and give him an opportunity to have success.”

Los Angeles opens March 20 against San Diego, part of a two-game series in Seoul, South Korea.

The Reds were leading 4-0 in the middle of the fifth inning Friday night when the game was stopped because of heavy rain, and then canceled.

Betts hit .307 with a career-high 39 homers and 107 RBIs last season, finishing second in NL MVP voting. Betts played 107 games in right field, 70 at second base and 16 at shortstop in his 10th big league season. Those were his first games at short in the majors.

The strong-armed Betts was a minor league infielder in the Boston organization before moving to the outfield. He was the 2018 AL MVP as the Red Sox won the World Series.

“I got drafted as a shortstop, so you imagine yourself playing shortstop in the big leagues,” Betts said. “Obviously that wasn’t the case, but it is now."

Roberts said there was a conversation with Betts and Lux on Thursday about the move. The manager said both players signed off on the decision, and he described Betts as excited about it.

"This is something that I know he didn’t expect, we didn’t expect, but he’s excited about it,” Roberts told reporters. “And there are times he is gonna kick to second base. And I was very clear that might be a possibility at times, but to wrap his head around shortstop.”



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