Mookie Betts has put together an unbelievable 2018 season, one that may very well end with him winning the 2018 American League MVP award.
But would you believe there was a time when the Boston Red Sox star slugger was worried about the thing that has made him so deadly this season: his swing.
Betts, who had a subpar 2017 season, attempted to change his swing in spring training, thanks to influences from new manager Alex Cora, hitting coach Tim Hyers and fellow MVP candidate J.D. Martinez.
NBC Sports Boston’s Evan Drellich recently published an excerpt from a long-form piece on Betts and his swing, and the star outfielder admitted that he was worried when he was struggling with the new swing in spring training.
“This whole season, hitting has been kind of that anxiety — you know, fear,” Betts told Drellich. “We all saw how I started in spring training, and I was trying to learn something new. I was like, ‘Phew, I don’t know, this may be my end.'”
Betts did have an abysmal spring training as he tried to follow the advice from Cora, Hyers and Martinez. According to Drellich, Cora wanted Betts to be more aggressive rather than work the count, while Hyers and Martinez impressed on him to not be afraid to hit the ball in the air, as that’s where home runs and extra-base hits come from.
But Betts was hitless in his first 16 spring training at-bats and was batting just .179 midway through March.
“It was bad,” Betts said. “I was actually really scared. Luckily, I was able to use my abilities that God gave me at picking up on things and kind of adapting. You give me a little something, I’ll work it and kind of make it my own within that structure. Seemed to work so far.”
The Red Sox are glad it did. Betts and Martinez have been the catalyst for what has been a special season so far in Boston, one that they hope ends in a World Series title.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images