Dodgers moving Mookie Betts to shortstop, Gavin Lux to second

ESPN logo
Saturday, March 9, 2024

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 theCincinnati Reds. Manager Dave Roberts called the switch, 12 days before the opener, "permanent, for now."

Expected shortstop Gavin Lux has struggled, 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 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 the season March 20 againstSan 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 in 152 games last season, finishing second in National League MVP voting. He played in 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 theBoston Red Soxorganization before moving to the outfield. He was the 2018 American League MVP as Boston won the World Series.

"It's definitely a change, but it's fun too," Betts told reporters before Friday's game. "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."

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 Betts described thetalk as "cool."

"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."

Betts said it doesn't matter where he plays; the goal remains the same.

"We're all on the same page here," he said. "We don't care what happens. We just want to win. We don't care how we really get there. The most important thing is winning. As for me, I don't care. I genuinely do not care. I've said this a million times. I just want to win. You can put me wherever. As long as I'm on the diamond, I'm going to do the best I can do and we'll see what happens after that."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.