Mookie Betts’ athleticism gives the Boston Red Sox options.
The Red Sox’s outfield has become a crowded place in a short amount of time. And second base is out of the question for obvious reasons. Could the Red Sox thus consider trying Betts at third base, where Will Middlebrooks has failed to take the next step in his major league career?
In theory, yes. But don’t count on it.
“We haven’t had that discussion,” Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington told reporters before Wednesday’s game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. “I think, obviously, he signed as a shortstop, moved to second base, got very comfortable there, and then moved to the outfield this year. We have a lot of confidence in his ability to play second and the outfield, and obviously we think he’s going to be a really good defensive player and a good baserunner.”
Betts appeared in his 29th major league game Wednesday. He’s been limited to the outfield at the big league level and Red Sox manager John Farrell has indicated that the 21-year-old likely will stay there for the remainder of 2014. Betts has shown improvement since taking over as Boston’s everyday center fielder and the team is looking to avoid piling too much on the young player’s plate at a critical point in his development.
For now, it’s not an issue. Betts seemingly has center field on lock. But with Rusney Castillo, who just signed a seven-year, $72.5 million contract with the Red Sox, expected to join the club in mid September, Farrell could be forced to do some shuffling down the stretch.
Castillo figures to be the Red Sox’s starting center fielder in 2015, meaning Boston must figure out where Betts, Yoenis Cespedes, Allen Craig, Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava, Brock Holt and Jackie Bradley Jr. fit into the organization’s plans. Trying Betts at third base would be reasonable given the need for stability at the position and the rookie’s obvious athleticism, but the Red Sox aren’t yet navigating those waters. And they might never do so.
“We haven’t discussed the left side of the infield yet,” Cherington said. “I don’t expect to. I guess I can’t completely rule it out. I don’t expect to. We’ll likely focus on either one of the outfield spots or second base, and obviously on this team, second base is hopefully locked up.”
Betts looks like he’s going to be a dynamic player wherever he ends up playing. That’s really what’s important, right?
Photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports