Mookie Betts apologized to his new manager within days of being promoted from Double-A Portland to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Betts didn’t do anything wrong — unless, of course, you frown upon a very skilled athlete making a name for himself by playing at an extremely high level. Humility simply took over for the 21-year-old Boston Red Sox prospect, whose rise to stardom continues to reach new heights with each head-turning performance.
“He actually came up and semi apologized, saying ‘I don’t want to be a distraction,’ ” Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles told reporters Tuesday. “I’m like ‘This is how it is. This is common.’ Whether it be Jackie (Bradley Jr.) or Xander (Bogaerts), this is the attention that happens whenever you go to a new place, whether it’s Portland or Pawtucket or eventually the big leagues. It’s not a distraction. It’s just how he handles it.”
Betts has handled his rapid ascent through the Red Sox system with maturity, poise and a relentless desire to reach the next level. It’s proven to be a successful formula to this point, although Betts still wanted to make sure he wasn’t stepping on anyone’s toes upon arriving at Triple-A earlier this month.
“I know he has his everyday stuff that goes on,” Betts told reporters of his unique apology to Boles. “Managing a team is tough. I was just saying I’m sorry for it because I know he’s going to be interviewed about things.”
Boles surely will face daily questions about Betts for as long as the 2011 fifth-round draft pick remains at Pawtucket. Red Sox manager John Farrell, meanwhile, will focus on the players currently at the major league level, although even he couldn’t help but get caught up in Mookie Mania over the weekend in Oakland.
Farrell, when asked a question about veteran outfielder Andres Torres, mentioned Betts’ name unprovoked. The comments created plenty of buzz, but Betts is keeping his emotions in check.
“I can’t look at it as validation or anything,” Betts said. “I just look at it as I’m doing something well, and he’s saying, ‘Keep going.’”
Betts, who was drafted as a second baseman, has learned to play the outfield this season. The move could expedite Betts’ big league arrival, although it’s his offensive prowess that has garnered national acclaim.
Betts established himself as one of the Red Sox’s top prospects with a strong 2013 season in which he hit .315 with 15 homers, 65 RBIs, 38 stolen bases and a .417 on-base percentage in 127 games split between Single-A Greenville and High-A Salem. The momentum spilled over into this season, with Betts continuing to rake at both Double-A and now Triple-A.
Betts enters Wednesday’s action hitting .346 with eight homers, 47 RBIs, 28 steals and a .432 on-base percentage in 74 games. He has more walks (46) than strikeouts (33), and his growing list of accolades now includes a spot in this year’s Major League Baseball Futures Game at Target Field in Minnesota.
“Well-deserved. He’s a terrific looking player,” Boles said. “Those numbers he put up in Portland and what he’s done here — the transition of playing second base and center field — he’s just a quality athlete. We think very highly of him and so does the industry. He gets a lot of attention and he handles it well.”
If Betts stays on the current path, he might soon find himself apologizing to a new skipper up in Boston.
Photo via Facebook/Mookie Betts