Mookie Betts

Betts: Discomfort from abdominal injury 'pretty much gone'

red_sox_mookie_betts_082516.jpg
File photo

Betts: Discomfort from abdominal injury 'pretty much gone'

BALTIMORE -- A quick transcript of Mookie Betts' meeting with reporters Monday after being reactivated by the Red Sox:

WHY TODAY?
Just talking with [manager Alex Cora] and [president of baseball operations Dave] Dombrowski and just decided to go ahead and jump right into it. 

WHAT WAS THE TURNING POINT IN THE RECOVERY?
I think through this whole thing, I’ve felt not so bad because it wasn’t like a big tear. It wasn’t anything that really [had] to turn, I guess, to or from. It was just a matter of letting it kind of heal and letting it come together. Only real thing I couldn’t do was hit. But every other activity I was fine doing. 

DID YOU HIT OFF THE MACHINE?
Yeah, I hit off the machine and everything yesterday and everything went just fine. We’ll do some more work today and get in there play.

DO YOU THINK YOU'LL NEED TOMORROW OFF?
I think we’ll just kind of see how I feel after the game today. Kind of go from there.

DID IT HELP TO RAMP UP ACTIVITY?
Yeah, I think the intensity of swings definitely helps you. I was able to ramp it up and kind of see how it feels. It felt good after. That was a good sign.

DID YOU PASS A HURDLE OR A TEST BEFORE PLAYING?
As of right now, no. Just going to go and however the day goes is how the day goes and just be ready to play.

DID THEY ASK YOU TO DO SOMETHING TODAY TO PROVE YOU WERE HEALTHY?
No.

ARE YOU STILL FEELING THE INJURY?
No, no. Right now everything’s pretty gone. We’ll see how the game goes today after nine innings.

AT WHAT POINT DID YOU THINK YOU WERE READY?
I feel like I’ve been ready to play for a couple days. It gets sore sometimes but I think that’s just meaning the muscles are working.

DID YOU AIM TO RETURN IN BALTIMORE?
No, I’m just looking forward to being here and being back in the lineup, no matter where we were I think I was going to try and get in there at some point.

WAS IT YOUR DECISION?
Those guys, the training staff and AC (Cora), they’ve been great with just kind of letting me kind of determine everything. They tell me, you’re fine, whenever you feel confident is when we’ll play. So yeah I felt pretty confident.

WAS THIS YOUR FIRST TIME EVER WITH THIS INJURY?
Yeah, first time.

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Red Sox lineup gets much-needed boost with return of Betts

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AP Photo

Red Sox lineup gets much-needed boost with return of Betts

BALTIMORE -- The Red Sox offense is still difficult to evaluate beyond some basic, blanket statements: they’re very good. They’re better than what they showed in 2017. 

Yet what Mookie Betts’ abdominal injury might expose more than anything is the separation between the Sox’ hitting and pitching, and the fact that the pitching remains this team’s calling card.

Betts' absence ended Monday when he was activated in Baltimore and started in right field. Sam Travis was optioned. 

FROM JUSTIN LEGER

Because of the big names involved, pitching was long expected to be a strength. What team carries David Price and Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel and expect pitching to be a secondary weapon?

But the way the season has unfolded has shifted some of the attention. Consider that the Sox entered Monday’s series opener with the Orioles carrying the second-highest runs per game average in the majors, 5.17. The Yankees lead everyone at 5.45, and the Cubs are at 5.05. J.D. Martinez and Betts have probably drawn more eyes than anyone at Fenway.

The pitching was supposed to be great. The hitting was supposed to rebound, but not necessarily to this level. The surprise factor, then, and the intrigue, has more often lied with the hitters. It wasn’t that long ago that the Sox were being spoken of as a doubles-based offense.

“I think the key for me has always been, and I may not be the normal here, is runs scored,” Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said in January. “That to me is the big one. So if you’re in a position where a guy hits 40 home runs and drives in 80, I’d rather have a guy who hits 25 and drives in 100, for me. That’s why I like guys who hit doubles. I’ve said from the very beginning I like a doubles-hitting club. We have a ballpark that’s conducive to hitting doubles.”

And conducive to Martinez continuing his Godzilla-like path of destruction.

But if you peak at Baseball-Reference.com's chart of how teams do by position, a little clearer picture of the Sox emerges. The Sox have had the best pitching in the majors, per that site’s wins above average measurement. That includes the best relief pitching, by the way. 

Non-pitchers? The Sox rank 11th. The Sox rank in the bottom third in all of baseball at three positions: second base, third base and catcher. There’s reason to believe all three positions can be better. But the strength of the Sox’ pitching is the depth, what Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright have added, and the emergence of Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel in the bullpen, all the way down to Hector Velazquez.

The season ERA of four starters: 2.83 for Sale, 3.54 for Rick Porcello, 4.00 for Price and 3.68 for E-Rod.

There’s just more to work with if someone gets hurt on the pitching side. Betts, irreplaceable talent that he is, is even harder for the Sox to replace given the alternatives in his place.

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More BP for Betts, Cora encouraged; Pedroia still shut down

More BP for Betts, Cora encouraged; Pedroia still shut down

Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts, on the 10-day disabled list with an abdominal strain, took batting practice for the second day in a row on Sunday and manager Alex Cora said he could soon be ready for a minor league rehab assignment. 

"He was driving the ball," Cora told reporters before the Red Sox played the White Sox. "He still has stuff to do. We treated it like a normal pregame. He's going to hit off the machine during the game. There were some pitches he got to that a week ago he couldn't get to."

Cora said after the game that Betts "had a great day" and would travel to Baltimore with the team Monday "and then we'll go from there." Betts, out since May 26, is still the major league's leading hitter at .359 and leads in OPS (1.187) to go with 17 homers and 37 RBI.

The news was not as encouraging on second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who returned to the DL last week after playing just three games as he comes back from offseason knee surgery.  

"Dustin still has inflammation. We’re going to keep him off baseball activities today, see how he feels," Cora said. "He’ll travel with us but it’s been a slow process as far as that. He’s feeling better, not as much pain as a week ago but still, he’s feeling it."

The Red Sox open a three-game series in Baltimore Monday before traveling to Seattle for a four-game series beginning Thursday and finishing the trip with three in Minnesota.

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