CLEVELAND -- Mookie Betts was out of the Red Sox's lineup for a second straight day on Saturday, but it wasn't a sign that he's had a setback with the left side injury that bothered him last week.In fact, Betts could play right field in Sunday's series finale in Cleveland,
CLEVELAND -- Mookie Betts was out of the Red Sox's lineup for a second straight day on Saturday, but it wasn't a sign that he's had a setback with the left side injury that bothered him last week.
In fact, Betts could play right field in Sunday's series finale in Cleveland, marking the first time he's played the outfield in a week.
Betts served as the designated hitter for the final two games of Boston's three-game series at Yankee Stadium.
Manager Alex Cora expects his superstar leadoff man to play in three straight games starting Sunday, and then the club will determine how much he will play over the final four regular-season games.
"I was the one who decided not to play him today," said Cora.
Betts and teammate J.D. Martinez are two of the top candidates to win the American League's Most Valuable Player Award.
Cora declined to say which player he would vote for if he had a vote.
"I don't have a vote," said Cora. "I've got twins, and I love them both."
David Price was the first Red Sox player to opine a few weeks back that Betts is the MVP of the league and Martinez is the MVP of his own team.
"In the NFL, they have the offensive player of the year and the MVP," said Cora. "That's a pretty good way to do it. I think we should do it in the big leagues."
Injured players aren't always able to contribute to the dynamic of a clubhouse because they feel isolated due to their inability to be on the field. But since second baseman Dustin Pedroia rejoined his teammates earlier this month, he has clearly served a purpose.
"It's been good," said Cora. "He's always talking to players. The other day we were in New York, I walked into the cage and he's talking to Mitch [Moreland], and I just sat down and listened and when he was done, I was like, 'Hey, man, you're a lot different now than 10 years ago.'
"Now he's mature and not the loud kid I played with. It seems like everything he was saying to Mitch made sense, and then I confirmed that yesterday. Carlos [Delgado] is here visiting me and he's out there with Mitch and he's saying things very similar to what Pedroia was telling Mitch.
"He's so good, he's good, he's helping us with the defense, talking to [Rafael Devers] defensively and all that. I know it's tough for him that he's not playing, we all know that. It has to be burning him inside, but at the same time, like I told him before he got back to Boston, I said, 'Either you're going to contribute on the field or off the field in the dugout, I want you around.' And he's been great."
Catchers preparing for all situations
With the Red Sox leaning toward having all three of their catchers on the postseason roster, Cora is trying to get them ready for whatever situations they might face in the playoffs.
To that end, Blake Swihart might catch David Price at some point during next week's homestand.
Cora also wants all three catchers to keep increasing their comfort with knuckleballer Steven Wright, who is likely to play a vital role in the bullpen in the playoffs. Though Wright won't pitch this weekend in Cleveland, Cora would like him to come into situations with runners on base during the final homestand.
"It would be good for them throughout the week that they see him, and they catch him in those situations," Cora said.
Kimbrel getting locked in
For the Red Sox, one of the bright spots of September has been the return to dominance of closer Craig Kimbrel. In eight appearances this month, he hasn't allowed a run while converting all five of his save opportunities. Opponents are hitting .040 against him. He's allowed one hit and three walks while striking out 12.
"Mechanics-wise, they found something that was off," Cora said. "It started in Baltimore. He wasn't able to land the breaking ball and, obviously, when you become a one-pitch pitcher at this level, it's tough. He struggled with command, too. They fixed it and he's throwing his best."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.