Posted on June 2, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
The best player in baseball is officially sidelined with an injury. The Boston Red Sox placed outfielder Mookie Betts on the 10-day DL Friday night because of an abdominal strain on his left side. The move comes after Betts has missed the team’s last five games. However, the move is retroactive to Tuesday so Betts will be eligible to return in less than a week. Prospect Sam Travis has been called up to take the empty roster spot.
Betts planned to take indoor batting practice on Friday in anticipation of returning to the lineup Saturday or Sunday. But the Red Sox pulled the plug after Betts took some front toss just as a way to get loose.
“After the first round, you could see that it was like, ‘Wait a minute. How you feeling?'” explains Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “He was honest with us and he made some progress, but he feels that he’s not there yet, and obviously, as you guys know where we’re at, it seems like it’s going to take more than this weekend.”
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The 25-year old has been invaluable to the Red Sox this season. Boston has spent much of the year atop the AL East. However, they are now half a game behind the Yankees after Friday’s loss to the Astros. Betts leads the majors in both batting average at .359 and OPS at 1.187. He’s hit 17 home runs and stolen 13 bases, both of which are top-5 in the big leagues.
Betts says he only feels discomfort in his abdomen when he swings the bat. He insists he could play through the pain if he had to. However, he doesn’t want to risk further injury and having to miss a significant chunk of what could be an MVP season.
“It wasn’t too good, wasn’t too bad. I think it’s just one of those things where we’ve got to give it time,” says Betts. “That’s really all we can do.”
With Betts out until at least next weekend, J.D. Martinez can expect to see more time in the outfield. Obviously, he’s a significant step down from Betts defensively. It also means the Red Sox have little choice but to play Jackie Bradley Jr. and his .200 batting average virtually every day. Brock Holt and Blake Swihart may see some time in Boston’s outfield. But for the time being, the Red Sox have no natural outfielders on the active roster other than Martinez, Bradley, and Andrew Benintendi.
In all likelihood, his stint on the DL will end up being a brief setback for Betts. However, the team originally thought he’d only miss a couple days, so there’s no guarantee he’ll return from the DL as soon as he’s eligible.
Boston is also in a tight division race with the Yankees. Any loss the Red Sox suffer while Betts is out could end up being the difference between a division title and having to play in the Wild Card Playoff. With Betts being the best player in baseball through the first two months of the season, they can’t afford to be without him for very long.