Red Sox World Series: Chances Mookie Betts plays second base are ‘very slim,’ Alex Cora says

BOSTON — When the 2018 World Series begins Tuesday night at Fenway Park, the Red Sox will have their full lineup on the field, including J.D. Martinez at DH. That will not be the case when the series shifts to Dodger Stadium for Games 3 and 4 and, potentially, 5. The two teams will give up the DH and that creates some issues for the BoSox.

At the moment, this is Boston’s regular defensive alignment:

  • LF: Andrew Benintendi
  • CF: Jackie Bradley Jr.
  • RF: Mookie Betts
  • DH J.D. Martinez

One of those four will have to sit at Dodger Stadium because there’s no DH. Cora has said Martinez will be in the lineup all series, as he should be. Betts will of course be in the lineup as well, which means either Benintendi or Bradley would have to sit during Games 3-5. Bradley was the ALCS MVP, remember.

Earlier this week Cora floated the possibility of Betts playing second base, the position he played in the minors, in Games 3-5 as a way to keep everyone in the lineup. Mookie did work out at second the last few days. On Tuesday though, Cora all but shot the plan down. He said the chances of Betts playing second in the World Series are not good.

“Very slim,” said Cora when asked about the chances of Mookie playing second. “But he’s prepared. He’s the best defensive right fielder in the big leagues. He’s not going to be the best defensive second baseman in the big leagues. We start moving a lot of parts – obviously offensively we can keep everybody together.”

Betts was drafted as a shortstop and he shifted over to second in the minors. The Red Sox moved him to the outfield in deference to Dustin Pedroia a few years back. Mookie has limited second base experience in the big leagues — he did play six innings at second in an emergency earlier this season — but, for a few innings in the World Series, it seems like a worthwhile endeavor.

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At the moment the Red Sox are playing Ian Kinsler and Brock Holt at second base. Kinsler hasn’t been great this postseason and Holt, aside from his cycle in ALDS Game 3, isn’t enough to stand in the way of keeping one of the outfielders in the lineup. With Martinez likely to get pulled for defense in the late innings, the BoSox will need all their outfielders anyway.

For now, Cora says it’s unlikely Betts will play second base at Dodger Stadium. I would consider that subject to the change pending Games 1-2. If the Red Sox fall behind in the series at some point, Cora might put the pedal to the metal and get his best players on the field, regardless of position.

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