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Mookie Betts returns to the Dodgers lineup

First start since Sunday after middle finger injury

Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Mookie Betts is back in the Dodgers lineup after not batting in any of the last three games after injuring his left middle finger on Sunday in Arizona. Betts bats second, playing right field against the Giants in the series opener on Friday night at Dodger Stadium.

Betts left last Sunday’s game after hurting his middle finger on a swing. He fouled that pitch off, and finished off the at-bat by hitting a home run. A few innings later, he was removed and hasn’t batted since.

He had significant swelling in the middle finger during the Dodgers’ series in San Diego, which limited him to only playing the field, which he did as a defensive replacement totaling three innings on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Dodgers-Giants lineups

Pos Giants Pos Dodgers
Pos Giants Pos Dodgers
RF Slater LF Pederson (L)
CF Yastrzemski (L) RF Betts
2B Solano CF Bellinger (L)
3B Longoria DH Turner
DH Flores SS Seager (L)
1B Belt (L) 1B Muncy (L)
LF Ruf 2B Taylor
C Tromp 3B Rios (L)
SS Dubón C Smith
Julio Urías vs. Jeff Samardzija on the mound

“The training staff did a great job in getting him back to health, and Mookie was a very good patient and eager to get back,” manager Dave Roberts said on a conference call before Friday’s game.

Betts this season is hitting .289/.347/.533 with two home runs and five doubles. Despite missing those three games at the plate, Betts still ranks eighth in the majors with 18 hard-hit balls, defined by Baseball Savant as batted balls with an exit velocity of 95 mph or higher.

Corey Seager leads the majors with 28 hard-hit balls this season. He bats fifth on Friday, ahead of Max Muncy, who bats sixth, for the first time this season. Muncy has five hits in his last 43 at-bats (.116), though he’s also walked seven times in that 11-game span.

Edwin Rios makes his second start of the season at third base on Friday, with Justin Turner the designated hitter. Rios is 3-for-12 (.250) on the young season, but all three hits were for extra bases — two home runs and a double.

Roberts said Rios was the Dodgers’ most-improved player since spring training in March.

“He’s done a great job of really leaning out, and he’s still maintaining strength,” Roberts said “The footwork, he’s much more agile, the lateral movement, the glove work has considerably improved a couple grades for me.”