Sox want J.D. in each WS game; Betts to 2B?
Cora mulling options for getting Martinez into lineup in NL park, including slotting Mookie in infield
BOSTON -- When the Red Sox get to Dodger Stadium for Game 3 of the World Series on Friday, they'll have to lose a key position player from the starting lineup.
However, manager Alex Cora made one thing clear on Saturday: J.D. Martinez, Boston's primary designated hitter and top run producer this season, will start every game in the Fall Classic. Mookie Betts isn't sitting either, which means either left fielder Andrew Benintendi or center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. would have to come out of the lineup.
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Unless, of course, Cora tries something unconventional and plays Betts at second base. Betts, as you might recall, was a second baseman in the Minors. He also started 14 games there for the Red Sox in 2014 when Dustin Pedroia was injured. And earlier this season -- on Aug. 3 against the Yankees -- Betts made a cameo at his old position for six innings when Ian Kinsler sustained an in-game injury.
Cora chuckled when the topic of Betts playing second in the World Series was the first question at his news conference on Saturday.
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"That's the first question for the World Series? Wow," said Cora. "I don't know, man. He already played second during the regular season, so there's always a chance, I guess."
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That didn't sound convincing. Yet the first question about it wasn't the last. And, interestingly, Cora left the door open.
"Like I said, we're in the World Series," said Cora. "The conversation was going to come up. One thing for sure, J.D. is going to play. That's clear. So we'll see which alignment is better, which lineup is better and we'll make decisions accordingly."
Betts did spend plenty of time taking grounders at second during Saturday's workout, but he spends time there in pregame drills on most days throughout the season.
"I was just joking with him. I'm like, 'There's a reason you're the right fielder.' He feels that he's great at second," said Cora. "I don't know. I never saw it. If you ask him, he's like, 'I'm great.' If you ask Pedroia, then he'll say, 'He sucked!' So there's a lot that goes into it. Teams do it differently.
"I saw [Max] Muncy playing second base [for the Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS]. That's the way they do it. We've got some pretty good second basemen. We've got some good outfielders."
Given all the contact that second basemen can endure, the Red Sox would have some natural safety concerns about their best all-around player risking injury at a position he hasn't played with any regularity in four years.
"That and turning double plays in a big moment, him not playing second base in a while, him being the best right fielder in the league. All that stuff comes into consideration," Cora said.