Red Sox

Alex Cora believes Mookie Betts could end his slump with one swing

Alex Cora believes Mookie Betts could end his slump with one swing

NEW YORK -- Alex Cora thinks Mookie Betts is close.

The right fielder has spent the bulk of the season in a slump, and his average dipped to .212 following Tuesday's night's 0-for-3 performance in an 8-0 loss to the Yankees that left Betts once again searching for answers.

But speaking to reporters before the series finale Wednesday night, Cora explained why Betts might not be as far away as he thinks.

"I just think he's off right now," Cora said. "The cool thing about those guys, the special ones, it takes one swing to get back to it. Like I said, I'm not going to be surprised if then all of a sudden, today in the first at-bat, boom, he puts a good swing on it and from there he clicks. So, I don't think he's putting pressure on himself. I just think like right now he's off a little bit. He's missing his pitch. He's falling behind in counts and they're pitching to the edges, they're expanding, it's all that stuff going on right now. But like I said, with those special guys, one swing might get them. One swing in the cage, or one swing in BP, or one swing in the game. Then they take off."

Betts' struggles actually extend to last year's postseason, where he hit .210 with one home run. He has looked in the dugout in the middle of at-bats for feedback on his mechanics, a sure sign that things aren't going well.

He has also spent more time discussing his struggles than anyone would like.

"As you guys know, I keep telling them, don't get caught up on the whole noise," Cora said. "I told them that last year and it's the same this year. Don't get caught up on whatever is going on outside our world. I don't feel like that's the case. He's just searching. He's searching. And it's uncomfortable to have fun in this game when you don't feel comfortable at the plate. We don't want to take away the joy of the game and all that, but sometimes it's hard to smile and to have fun when you don't feel right."

Cora added that dropping Betts from leadoff to the No. 2 hole -- now widely accepted as the best place for your best overall hitter -- is not impacting him. Betts was back in the leadoff spot on Wednesday with Andrew Benintendi sitting against Yankees lefty J.A. Happ.

"He got some pitches yesterday that he put some good swings on," Cora said. "I feel like he's getting close. He's getting close. We'll keep staying with what we think is going to help and is going to make us a good offensive club, but I don't think it's the order leading off, hitting second, hitting third. I don't think it matters, I think it's just him trying to find his swing and I do feel like he's getting closer."

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Latest reports on MLB negotiations don't bode well for 2020 season

Latest reports on MLB negotiations don't bode well for 2020 season

While the NBA gears up for a reported return in late July, Major League Baseball is still stuck in neutral.

MLB has rejected the MLB Players Association's proposal for a 114-game season in 2020 and doesn't plan to make a counter-offer, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich reported Wednesday.

The sticking point appears to be around player pay: The players agreed to prorated 2020 salaries in March but called for no additional salary cuts in their latest proposal, per The Athletic. MLB's proposal to the union last month, meanwhile, called for a "50-50 revenue split" between owners and players in an 82-game season.

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According to The Athletic, MLB is considering a season with as few as 50 games in front of no fans as a potential option but has not proposed that scenario to the union.

Yet multiple players recently told ESPN's Jeff Passan they're opposed to a shorter season, with one telling Passan, "We want to play more games, and they want to play less. We want more baseball."

The New York Post's Joel Sherman summed up the current state of negotiations Wednesday in a rather depressing tweet.

All hope isn't completely lost for the 2020 MLB season to happen amid the coronavirus pandemic, however. SNY's Andy Martino suggested MLB declining to counter the players' proposal could just be a negotiating tactic as the sides attempt to find common ground.

Still, it doesn't appear the league and the players are close to finding that common ground. And considering the Boston Red Sox had already played 59 regular-season games by this point last year, time is running out.

UPDATE (4:23 p.m. ET): MLB Network's Jon Heyman is a bit more optimistic about the league and the players working things out:

MLB's Top 100 players for 2020 season: Part 3, Numbers 50-26

MLB's Top 100 players for 2020 season: Part 3, Numbers 50-26

With MLB players and owners struggling to come to terms on a return-to-play strategy for 2020, we're focusing on the actual players who will take the field when games eventually get back underway.

Over the next several weeks, NBC Sports Boston is counting down the Top 100 players for 2020. While our list won't include several aces who will definitely not play this season — Noah Syndergaard of the Mets, Luis Severino of the Yankees, and Chris Sale of the Red Sox — our countdown includes many other All-Stars.

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Red Sox closer Brandon Workman kicked off our list at No. 100, and our next group of 25 players included Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez.

As we continue our countdown and move into the Top 50, we find J.D. Martinez, who has broken out into a feared hitter after a slow start to his career. Released by the Astros before the 2014 season, he remade his approach, flourished with the Tigers and now has made back-to-back All-Star teams with the Sox. 

Now 32, he's an established veteran, but it's also possible the late bloomer is only early in his prime years. So where does he land on our Top 100?

Click here for Part 3 of our countdown of MLB's Top 100 players.