If Mookie Betts could homer into the Chase Field pool with an injured finger, the Dodgers couldn’t wait to see what he would do fully healed on Friday night, when Betts still looked every bit the $365 million super talent.
Back in the lineup after missing three starts, Betts led a four-homer barrage in a 7-2 win over the Giants, keeping the postgame upbeat despite shortstop Corey Seager’s third-inning departure with lower back discomfort.
Betts doubled in the first inning, homered in the third and walked. Max Muncy, Will Smith and Edwin Ríos also homered for the Dodgers, who overcame a four-inning start from Julio Urías.
“It was really impressive,” said manager Dave Roberts. “Obviously, he’s one of the great players in the game. I thought we were responsible, giving him extra time to make sure his finger felt good enough to play and take the at-bats. The double, the homer -- gave us a little bit of life. After that, guys followed suit.”
Betts was injured on Sunday, taking an awkward swing fouling off a pitch during a fifth-inning at-bat that somehow ended with a long home run anyway.
“I don’t know exactly what happened,” said Betts. “I think adrenaline got me through that at-bat and kind of wore off after I hit that home run.”
Although he did not come to bat in the three games that followed in San Diego, he was used as a late-inning defender twice, perhaps the highest-paid defensive replacement ever.
“He was eager to help in any way he could,” said Roberts. “When you’re talking about a superstar player that isn’t available to hit, sometimes it can be difficult to get them into a game to be a defensive replacement. He was kind of champing at the bit to get out there and help, contribute. It was easy to get him in there to help us out.
“Even games early on, you saw him in those dugout seats at Petco, watching every play, every inning. He wasn’t in the clubhouse with his shower shoes on. He’s a student of the game, wants to be there for his teammates in any way possible; he’s always trying to help us out. He just loves to play the game of baseball and help the Dodgers win. Something I already sort of knew, but it’s good to see.”
Betts said that’s standard procedure for him.
“I’m always going to be in the dugout. There’s always ways to help,” he said. “That’s kind of my personality, just kind of get into the mix to help the team win.”
Betts credited the Dodgers’ athletic training staff with getting the swelling out of the finger and the flexibility back into it. He said he had never suffered a similar injury and wasn’t sure how this one happened.
Even in a shortened season, having a loaded roster not only provides Roberts with talented subs, but alleviates the pressure on stars to return too soon.
“The guys played well and I didn’t have to rush back at all,” Betts said. “It’s a lot easier. I was added to a team that was already making playoffs every year and making World Series and what not. This team, they didn’t miss a beat at all.”