For the first time in a week, the Dodgers have Mookie Betts back in their starting lineup, hitting leadoff against the Rockies on Tuesday night after missing four games with lower back tightness.
Betts was scratched last Wednesday on getaway day in Oakland. Off days on Thursday and Monday made it such that Betts was out for six days but only four games, which might have informed the Dodgers’ decision to hold him out, at least on Sunday.
“I think where we’re at on the calendar, we’re just making sure he’s as close to 100 percent as he can be before he takes the field,” manager Dave Roberts said Sunday.
Betts said his back stiffness did not affect him while hitting.
|2B||McMahon (L)||SS||Seager (L)|
|RF||Blackmon (L)||1B||Muncy (L)|
|LF||Tapia (L)||2B||Lux (L)|
“I kind of turned the corner a couple days ago, but I just wanted to get all the way over the hump,” Betts said Tuesday. “I don’t know exactly what happened, but it was kind of bugging me running. You know, that’s a big part of my game.
“I didn’t want to limit myself too much, when we have some guys out there, some guys on the bench that can do plenty fine in this lineup.”
Betts, who also got a scheduled day off in the opening series at Coors Field, has reached base at least twice, had at least one hit, and scored in all five of his games to start the season. Getting a hit and scoring in each of their first five games is tied for the longest Dodgers streak to open a season dating back to at least 1901. The full list:
- Heinie Manush (1937): 8-for-22 (.364), five runs scored
- Billy Cox (1952): 12-for-28 (.429), seven runs
- Raul Mondesi (1995): 10-for-19 (.526), nine runs
- Hanley Ramirez (2012): 7-for-21 (.333), five runs
- Mookie Betts (2021): 8-for-23 (.348), six runs
Counting Ramirez is cheating a bit since they weren’t to start the 2012 season, but rather his first five games with the Dodgers after getting traded from the Marlins. But the point is, five games in a row with a hit and a run is an achievement. If Betts can do it again on Tuesday, he’d be the first Dodger to do it in his first six games of a season.
One Dodger not starting on Tuesday is Justin Turner, with Edwin Ríos getting the start at third base. This is utilizing Monday’s off day to give Turner roughly the equivalent of two days off, depending on whether he is used as a pinch hitter. Roberts does this regularly, and got nearly every starting position player a scheduled day off during the four-game opening series at Coors, including Turner and Betts. Betts will get another day off Thursday.
“Early on I was resistant to taking days off, but obviously a lot has changed since I first came up,” Betts said. “There’s a lot of data that proves some days off helps more on the back end, so now I’m more accepting to the schedule that Doc lays out.”