BOSTON (CBS) — Mookie Betts made his return to the Boston lineup Monday night. It went a little longer than anyone expected.
Betts was back in the leadoff spot for the Red Sox, going 1-for-5 after missing the last 14 games with a left abdominal strain. The right fielder got his only hit of the night in the 11th inning, singling to left field with two outs in the then-scoreless affair. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and made it to third as Boston loaded the bases, but was stranded when Mitch Moreland struck out to end the Boston threat.
Boston manager Alex Cora lifted Betts in the bottom of the inning, not wanting to overwork one of his best hitters after such a lengthy layoff.
“He hasn’t played in two weeks, so I [thought] that was enough for him right there,” Cora told reporters after Boston’s 2-0 win in 12 innings. “He’s good to go. It’s fun to have him in the lineup. We’ll see how he feels and we’ll decide tomorrow if he plays or not.”
“It felt amazing,” Betts said of his return. “It felt normal. I didn’t feel it at all.”
Betts added that he is ready to go Tuesday night if Cora wants to send him back out there for a second straight game.
It was a bit of a surprising move when the Red Sox activated Betts before the game Monday without sending him on a brief minor league assignment. Cora and Red Sox president of baseball ops. Dave Dombrowski asked Betts if he wanted to make a quick rehab outing with Single-A Salem, but he said he was ready to rejoin the Boston lineup.
“[We] just decided to go ahead and jump right into it,” said Betts. “I think, through this whole thing, I felt not so bad because it wasn’t a big tear. The only real thing I couldn’t do was hit, but every other activity, I was fine.”
“We’re very comfortable with the decision we made,” Cora said. “He went through all the check points, all the stations that he has before the game. He feels that he’s ready to go.”
Betts’ return didn’t help jump-start the sputtering Boston offense. The team left eight runners on base and went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position before plating their two runs in the 12th inning.
Even after going 1-for-5, Betts still leads the American League with a .354 batting average, a .735 slugging percentage and a 1.167 OPS.