BOSTON (CBS) – On Wednesday night, 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Adam Jones discussed Mookie Betts’ start of the season and how it might play out over the course of the year.
With 15 games in the books, Betts is hitting .203 with two home runs, nine RBIs and four stolen bases. Though Betts has been on and off, Jones so far is liking the potential Betts possesses.
“Its clear, he’s flashed this year. Opening Day home run in Philly off Cole Hamels. In the home opener, Betts was everywhere in robbing a home run from Bryce Harper, stealing second and third on the same play, hitting a home run of Jordan Zimmerman. You just see the potential from him all over the place,” Jones said.
“His athleticism is off the charts. You can see flashes of Mookie Betts. Yet, after his RBI single Wednesday night against the Rays, he’s still hitting .203 this season and his OPS is a couple of ticks over .600 on the season. Its a small sample size. Mid 60’s plate appearances. I’m not saying you pull the plug now and I’m not saying you drop him in the order or send him down. My question is how long is the leash for Mookie Betts, particularly in the leadoff spot? It sets the table for the entire rest of the order, which by the way hasn’t really started hitting either. Bogaerts is the only offensive regular over .280 this season. Its not like anyone right now is tearing the cover off the ball, but Mookie Betts is the guy at the top of the order who’s supposed to get things going. How long do you give him to prove himself at the top of the lineup?”
Rich Keefe believes that patience will be key with Betts and that he could turn it around sooner than later.
“I give him another couple of weeks. I think you have to be patient with him. We’ve seen it firsthand. Terry Francona sometimes almost to a fault was too patient with some of his guys. Go back to Dustin Pedroia’s rookie year. He was pretty brutal that first month and you say all right, maybe the kid isn’t ready and its time to move on. The Sox stuck with him and he was Rookie Of The Year,” Keefe said.
“You know guys like Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino are openly struggling. I don’t think you realized that Betts is struggling because it’s either Betts is making highlight type plays or was being shown hitting home runs or legging out great plays or he was getting out. I give him longer and plus, the Sox are still winning games. The Sox are 9-6 and its another reason why you have the luxury to wait a little bit longer.”
Jones thinks Betts will be given until the end of the month to turn things around as a leadoff hitter.
“I would give him just a couple of weeks just to see how he’s faring. Part of the reason is last year, it wasn’t like he came up and hit right away. He ended last season with 189 at-bats in about 52 games last year. Betts batted .291 and had an .812 OPS. Ultimately, heat it up was the point. Another reason is there’s not exactly anybody else knocking down the door. Rusney Castillo is on the disabled list in the minor leagues. There is no other logical guy who you’re going to hit leadoff on the team right now unless you’re going to start playing Brock Holt every day or Shane Victorino, who had to leave Wednesday’s night game with tightness in his hamstring,” Jones mentioned.
“It seems like the injuries are already piling up for Victorino. Pedroia does not like hitting leadoff. What are your options, realistically? Betts is kind of the only guy right now at least until Castillo gets back to the major leagues and before that, has to get healthy. There is no other logical candidate. So I don’t know really else of what to do. The Red Sox have to hope Betts ultimately heats up or else this lineup at the top could be in trouble.”
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