Betts expected to miss 6-8 weeks after HBP fractures left hand

June 18th, 2024

DENVER -- The Dodgers are going to be without for some time, as the shortstop has a fractured left hand following a hit by pitch in the seventh inning of a 3-0 win over the Royals at Dodger Stadium on Sunday.

Facing right-hander Dan Altavilla with a 1-2 count, Betts was struck by a 97.9 mph four-seamer and immediately fell to the ground, visibly in pain. On Monday prior to the club's series opener against the Rockies at Coors Field,

According to manager Dave Roberts, Betts won’t need surgery, but the team will still be without the 2018 American League Most Valuable Player for at least six to eight weeks. That, of course, is all contingent on how Betts’ bones heal over the next few weeks.

“I think the plan is he’s just going to get fitted for a splint,” Roberts said Monday. “There’s going to be a couple weeks of inactivity with that hand, is my assumption. Just get the healing process back and do everything he can to keep his body in shape.”

After Betts was hit, it took quite a while before he was able to get up and leave the field, making for a scary moment that was extremely difficult to watch for both teams.

"Absolutely no intent,” said Altavilla. “I was trying to go inside in a 1-2 count and it slipped armside out of my hand. I really hope he's OK."

To Betts’ recollection, it was the first time he had been hit on the hands. It’s not the first time he has missed time due to a bone fracture, however; in 2022, he cracked his right rib in an outfield collision with Cody Bellinger.

With that injury, he was out for just 15 days, playing again while the rib was still technically broken. He will not be able to do the same with this injury.

“Obviously, I'll be watching the boys, cheering them on,” said Betts after Sunday’s game. “But other than that, it’s just kind of rest, maybe use it as a mental break. Be ready to go whenever it heals up.”

With Betts officially placed on the injured list Monday, the Dodgers turned to Shohei Ohtani to replace him as the team’s leadoff hitter. Roberts said Ohtani will continue to hit leadoff against right-handed pitching. Will Smith moved into Ohtani’s No. 2 spot, while Freddie Freeman stays in the three-hole to split up the two superstar lefties atop the lineup.

Against left-handed pitching, Roberts said he hasn’t decided how he’ll construct the lineup, though it’s possible it remains the same.

“I think for me, for Shohei, just continue to do what he’s been doing,” Roberts said. “I don’t expect him to change. I don’t expect Will to change. [Ohtani has] hit leadoff in his career, so I felt comfortable that it’s a position he’s known before.”

While Betts is out, Miguel Rojas and Kiké Hernández will get the bulk of the responsibility at shortstop. Roberts said Rojas will start three of the next four games with Hernández stepping in on Wednesday. Chris Taylor could also be an option, but the club will use him primarily at second base.

When Betts returns, the initial expectation is that he’ll slot back in as the team’s shortstop. Given the time he’s scheduled to miss, which will take him away from his intense pregame routine that includes taking nearly an hour worth of grounders, the Dodgers are going to wait until Betts is back healthy to make any decisions.

“I think it’s evaluating this time while he’s out,” said general manager Brandon Gomes. “What Miggy brings to the table, obviously he’s been incredibly successful over his career. So it’s gonna be continuing to evaluate, and how everything fits into the team overall. And then, as we get closer to guys coming back, then trying to dial in on what it’s gonna look like exactly.”