The Los Angeles Dodgers have already been forced to change course this spring in their bid to win a 10th NL West division title in the last 11 years
A season-ending knee injury to starting shortstop Gavin Lux has manager Dave Roberts looking at several new infield alignments, including one with Gold Glove outfielder Mookie Betts playing second base.
“It’s real,” Roberts recently told Sports Illustrated. “The way I envision it, Mookie starts about 40 games at second base and 110 in the outfield.”
He’ll continue getting reps at second this spring, both with the Dodgers and Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
Betts has only made 30 appearances at second base over his nine major league seasons, but he’s no stranger to the position having played it almost exclusively in the minors.
He moved to the outfield shortly before he made his MLB debut in 2014 with Red Sox, who already had Gold Glover Dustin Pedroia at second. “I didn’t ask to go to right field. I was forced out there,” he says.
However, Betts has become one of the best outfielders in the game, winning six Gold Gloves in the past seven seasons.
Still, he seems to be feeling a certain pull now that he’s into his 30s.
“I definitely enjoy being out in right field for sure. But you only play the game for so long and I would like to get back to my roots before it’s all said and done,” Betts said on SiriusXM radio earlier this spring.
The Dodgers didn’t spend heavily on free agents this offseason, but did bring in veterans Jason Heyward and David Peralta to join Chris Taylor, Trayce Thompson and James Outman in the outfield mix.
The Dodgers also signed veteran infielder Miguel Rojas this offseason, but were planning to have him serve as a backup at second and shortstop. With Lux out, Rojas is in line to start most every day at short. Having both Betts and Taylor also able to play in the infield gives the Dodgers some much-needed roster flexibility.
However, Betts seeing time at second would likely cut into the playing time for top prospect Miguel Vargas, who made his MLB debut last August after hitting .304/.404/.511 with 17 homers and 16 stolen bases last season at Class AAA.
Vargas will get even more reps at second while Betts is playing in the WBC. By the time Betts returns, the Dodgers should have a better idea of what their roster will look like going into the regular season.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mookie Betts is likely to see more time at second base for the Dodgers