LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers star outfielder Mookie Betts has dealt with multiple nagging injuries this season, but perhaps none of those ailments have lingered as long as a right hip injury that forced him out of the starting lineup against the Giants for the third consecutive game on Tuesday.
Betts was taken out of Saturday’s game against the Rockies after feeling discomfort while running the bases. The Dodgers said it was right hip inflammation for Betts and that he would be back in the lineup on Monday. Betts was initially listed as the team’s leadoff hitter on Monday, but was a late scratch due to the same injury.
The Dodgers and Betts still believe it’s something that he can manage over the course of the season. But Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said this is the worst Betts has felt with the injury all year.
“It’s been there [and] we’ve managed it, but I think sometimes something triggers it and it is just inflamed,” Roberts said. “I don’t know what it was in particular, but it’s kind of where we’re at right now and we’re just trying to manage it.”
Hitting isn’t the problem for Betts, who came off the bench and struck out as a pinch-hitter on Monday after initially being a late scratch from the starting lineup. Betts is having issues running in the outfield and creating his usual havoc on the bases. Until he’s able to do that with at least a manageable level of pain, the Dodgers will try and stay away from their star player.
“He’s frustrated,” Roberts said of Betts. “He wants to be in there. Mookie understands the value of him being in the lineup, the importance of the series. But when you can’t go out there and be yourself and run balls down in the outfield, score on a base hit from second base, we just don’t want it to be more harm than good.”
Part of Betts’ frustration is that he was finally starting to get going at the plate.
Betts said the All-Star break served as a good mental reset for him and it also allowed him to work on his swing without thinking about results. He called his first half “bad” but the start of his second half was quite the opposite.
The former AL MVP went 4-for-4 with a homer and three doubles in Saturday’s win against the Rockies. Since the All-Star break, Betts is 7-for-10 and has 12 hits in his last 17 at-bats. If you go back to the last week before the break, Betts is 16-for-36 with four homers and 14 runs scored in his past nine games.
That’s the level of production the Dodgers enjoyed last season and the type of numbers Betts is accustomed to producing. When Betts records two or more hits, the Dodgers are 18-6. There’s also no coincidence that the offensive numbers spiked up once Betts got going at the plate.
Roberts has often said that the Dodgers go as Betts go. But right now, their main focus is getting Betts back on the field and feeling healthy.
“Mookie wants to be in there for his teammates, he just can’t do it right now,” Roberts said. “Hopefully each day that passes, we can get him in a better spot.”