'Big blow' for LA: Betts (cracked rib) placed on IL

June 19th, 2022

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers were dealt another big blow on Saturday as manager Dave Roberts announced that star outfielder went on the 10-day injured list with a cracked right rib. The move became official Sunday.

Betts sustained the injury in an outfield collision with center fielder Cody Bellinger during the Dodgers’ 4-1 win over the Angels on Wednesday. Roberts and Betts both expressed optimism that the star outfielder will be able to return in about two weeks, but they’ll get a better idea once they see how Betts progresses over the next few days.

“It’s certainly a big blow for all of us,” Roberts said. “But having the information and knowing what it is, at least there’s solace in that and hopefully we’ll get him back sooner than later.”

Betts was scratched from the Dodgers’ lineup on Friday, but an initial X-ray didn’t reveal any damage. The star outfielder was then slated to start Saturday, but was a late scratch from the lineup once again. After Betts complained of residual soreness, the Dodgers decided to have the outfielder go through an MRI, which revealed the cracked right rib.

“I thought it was just a bruise,” Betts said Sunday. “As I was preparing for the game, it just got a little worse and a little worse. So that’s when I knew I needed to go get it checked out. When nothing was broke on the X-rays, that was encouraging and my mind was fixed on trying to play no matter what.”

Losing Betts for at least a week and a half will be a big loss for a Dodgers’ lineup that has been scuffling in June. The former MVP has been the team’s most productive hitter this season and has established himself as one of the early favorites to win NL MVP in 2022. Betts leads the Dodgers with 17 homers and 53 runs scored.

Roberts often says that the Dodgers’ offense goes as Betts goes. Before the injury, Betts struggled at the plate in June, hitting .193 with just two homers. That coincides with the Dodgers’ 7-8 record this month.

In Betts' absence, the Dodgers will lean on Chris Taylor, Eddy Alvarez and Zach McKinstry, who was called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Sunday. Alvarez got the start on Sunday, while Taylor got the nod in right on Saturday. Trea Turner will hit leadoff for the Dodgers as long as Betts remains sidelined.

With the Dodgers needing to cut down to 13 pitchers beginning Monday, Roberts also said that the team is leaning toward adding a right-handed bat to try to make up for Betts’ production. Roberts added that the team is also looking at external options.

“I think there’s going to be some opportunity for some guys,” Roberts said. “The guys we’ve lost, we’re a better ballclub when they’re with us and active and playing, but we still have a lot of talent in the room. … Guys have got to kind of seize the opportunity.”

Over the last few weeks, the Dodgers have lost Walker Buehler, Edwin Ríos and now Betts to injury. Blake Treinen and Tommy Kahnle have also been sidelined for over a month. Los Angeles did get left-hander Andrew Heaney back from injury on Sunday.

The Dodgers’ depth has been tested early this year, but they face their biggest challenge without Betts for an extended period of time.

“I don’t want to reference Murphy’s Law, but it’s been that way,” Roberts said. “But you have to keep moving up and have that next man up mindset. It’s baseball and it’s a long season and things like that are going to happen.”