BOSTON - We've seen flashes of the real Mookie Betts up in Boston, but with Jackie Bradley Jr. optioned down to the PawSox and Betts called up in his place on Monday, we're going to see a lot more.
This is Betts' third career Major League stint, all this season for Boston. He's played in 13 games and hit .244 (10-for-41) with a home run, two doubles, two RBI and six runs. Betts is being groomed as an outfielder by the Red Sox after being drafted as a second baseman.
He will play primarily in center field, starting Monday night against the Angels.
Betts has torn up the minor leagues this season. In 99 games between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket, he's hit .346 (138-for-399) with 11 home runs, 30 doubles, five triples, 65 RBI, 33 stolen bases and 61 walks. He's struck out just 50 times.
With the PawSox, he's hitting .335 with five homers, 12 doubles, and two triples. He's got 31 RBI in 45 games.
Betts' last stint in Boston was from August 1-6 before being sent back down. He'll stick around longer than that now.
"Well he didn't take the going back to Pawtucket negatively," Farrell said of Betts' continued assault on minor league pitchers. "He picked up where he left off and he's got what I would consider a fairly low-maintenance swing. It's some of the things that we're talking about Jackie needing to get back to, and that's bat speed, that's a compact stroke, and he's got a clear understanding of the strike zone as well."
Bradley and Betts are in a way at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of hitting and fielding. Bradley has proven to be one of the best in the Majors in the field, while Betts is still learning the position. But Farrell has been impressed with Betts' progress so far.
"In the two times he's been here we noticed that there was substantial improvement from the first time up here," Farrell said. "I think he got about 40 games under his belt in the outfield before coming up here the first time, and there were some routes that were still developing. And then when he came back to us the second time, I thought there was more range, more efficiency in those reads and those routes, and I think that's just getting acclimated to the position. Particularly the ball deep in center field. I thought he was much better going back on balls."
With Mike Trout and the Angels in town for the next four games, Betts should get plenty of opportunities to flash his glove out in center.