Mookie Betts’ Attitude As Good As His Play

mookie betts

As each Spring Training game passes, Mookie Betts is leaving little doubt in anyone’s mind that he should be the Red Sox’ starting center fielder come April 6th.

Betts contributed another impressive performance on Monday, going 2-3 with a double, triple, and a run scored against the New York Mets at JetBlue Park in Ft. Myers, FLMookie Betts. In seven Spring Training games thus far, Betts is hitting an astounding .435/.435/.739, good for a 1.174 OPS.

Equally as impressive as his on-the-field performance, has been his attitude and the way he conducts himself off of it.

Betts began last season on a hot streak as the Portland Sea Dogs’ second baseman, but with the Red Sox middle infield seemingly full for years to come, the Red Sox had Betts begin to transition to center field, where they could take advantage of his immense talent.

“It’s had its ups and downs,” Betts said in an interview with Ron Borges of BostonHerald.com. “It definitely hasn’t been as easy as I thought. You’ve got a lot of ground to cover and you have to move around with each hitter and with different counts. There’s so much involved getting ready for each pitch.”

“When the first fly came out it was like ‘Oh bleep.’ That’s pretty much exactly how I felt. But after I got the first couple under my belt I felt comfortable.”

Although the transition has not come without its difficulties, Betts seems willing to do whatever it takes to earn a spot on the big league roster.

“The only thing I can do now is fulfill what they need,” Betts shared with Borges. “I 100 percent look at it like they think I’m a good enough athlete to do it, not like they don’t think I can play the infield. Plus, we got a guy at second base who’s pretty good so I couldn’t play there.”

“My dream wasn’t to play second base. The dream is to make it to the big leagues. I can’t say it didn’t happen as I wanted because I’m in the big leagues.”

With an incredible amount of talent and potential on-the-field, and the maturity and wisdom that makes him seem wise beyond his years, Mookie Betts seems ready to take the MLB by storm. If his spring is any indication of what’s to come for the 22-year old Nashville, TN native, we might be seeing a perennial All-Star at Fenway Park for years to come.

Dustin Pedroia: Arrogant, Simply Amazing or Both?

Dustin Pedroia

Who bares the # 15 Red sox jersey? Everyone who knows baseball can answer that question. But just for kicks, the next time you walk into Fenway Park or walk down Yawkey Way, keep an eye on how many Pedroia shirts you see. In retrospect, Dustin Pedroia recently signed a seven year contract for 110 million dollars which would hold his spot on the Boston Red Sox until 2021. He’s that much of a commodity. But do we, as fans, believe this was a wise decision for the Red Sox organization? After all, he’s got a big head and I’m not talking about the one that sits atop his shoulders.

Okay, so he may be the all-star player on the team and God knows where we’d be without him, but do we really need to flaunt it by buying Pedroia paraphernalia? I was pissed when I walked into a gift shop on Yawkey Way not long ago, looking specifically for a Junichi Tazawa shirt. Low and behold they had everyone else –Ortiz, Ellsbury and even Middlebrooks, but no Junichi. Case in point, I was listening to my car radio the other day and the radio broadcaster decided to bring up in conversation random stats about Pedey. Did you know, out of all the Red Sox gear sold, Pedroia’s #15 is the highest selling number in Red Sox Nation? Where is Tazawa in all of this?  I know. Pedroia is  the s*** to most Red Sox fans and he does outperform in almost every game, but is he humble or does he relay a bit of arrogance I am unwilling to overcome?

I don’t know the man personally, but there is an air about him when he takes to the field or the plate that strikes me as egotistical and arrogant to say the least.  Confidence is high, great! But his overconfidence accentuates my feelings of remorse.

It was Pedey’s 30th birthday and the Sox had taken on the Yankees at Fenway.  Pedey was at bat when he fouled off of Adam Warren’s pitch, a swift kick to the shin.  He fell to the ground instantly in pain, but soon after returned to his feet and finished his at bat. Although, the entirety of the game, he had been the only Red Sox player to not land on base, he still remained stellar in the field. That is until he was taken out and replaced by rookie Brock Holt the inning following his injury.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, in a recent interview, mentions the team cannot withstand losing anyone at this point whether it is Pedey, Lester, or Koji. As of right now they have a solid team and everyone is playing their hardest.  It’s not about the man who makes the most plays on the field, or the guy who gets the most hits at bat or who has played the most games.  Pedroia has his days, on point or in the slumps, just as any other player out there. Who’s to say one man can outperform any other?  As the Red Sox draw closer and closer to the playoffs, it’s not Pedroia who will determine whether or not they will make it to the World Series, but instead it’s a unified team with the ability to capture the hearts of all Boston fans.

Better Late than Nava

Daniel Nava

For a guy making only $15 K more than the major-league minimum, and who wasn’t even guaranteed a roster spot during Spring Training, Daniel Nava is making quite an impact. After smashing rousing, go-ahead home runs in the home opener and in the Sox’ first game home after the Marathon tragedy, he’s continued to collect big hits all season with a professional approach that’s exemplary of this team’s no-BS style.

Through the Sox’ game on July 11th, in which Nava hit the game-winning single in the top of the 10th, the left fielder was hitting .293 and ranked 3rd and 4th on the club with 10 long balls and 52 RBIs, respectively. Up until a recent cold streak dropped his average below .300, his name was beginning to surface in All-Star talk, at least on local sports radio; Tigers manager Jim Leyland, this year’s AL All-Star manager, said Nava was still one of the toughest omissions from this year’s squad.

Nava’s emergence from that slump solidified his production this year as legit rather than lucky. It was hard for some to believe what they saw from him as he hit well over .300 for the season’s first two months; his pedigree, a player who didn’t even make his college team initially, certainly didn’t scream “MLB slugger.” But after battling back from a wicked skid that dropped his average almost 30 points; Nava has proven that he can hang with the big boys. His batting eye is impeccable, helping him post a .380 OBP. His at-bat during the Sox’ 10-inning win over Seattle was the epitome of his game: 0-5 and facing Todd Wilhemsen’s overpowering fastball, Nava hung tough and stayed within himself. He wasn’t enough of a natural hitter to turn on one of Wilhelmsen’s 98 MPH heaters, so he hung back on a breaking ball and grounded it sharply up the middle to score the eventual winning run. That same diligence has helped his defense improve from a liability to a considerable skill.

Having his first standout season at age 30, Nava is something of a late bloomer. But that he bloomed at all is a testament to his dedication, his attitude, and his love for the game. Hitting major-league pitching is almost genetic; it’s something many great players seem born to do. Nava isn’t among them, but he’s willed his way to the top. Better late than Nava.