After arriving at Yankee Stadium following his call-up to the major leagues, Mookie Betts told reporters about how he got the word he was joining the Red Sox.
Betts said he and his girlfriend were back in his hotel room after he had gone 0-for-2 at Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday night. He said PawSox manager Kevin Boles called him and told him to return to McCoy Stadium because he had something to tell the 21-year-old prospect. Boles told Betts it was something he couldn't tell him over the phone.
The message: Report to Yankee Stadium on Saturday. Quite a meteoric rise for a kid who began last season at Single-A Greenville and started this season at Triple A Portland.
The right-handed hitting Betts hit .322 with an .869 OPS at Pawtucket. While in Portland, he hit .355 in 54 games with 6 homers and 34 RBI. Between the two stops, he's stolen 29 bases in 34 attempts. Originally a second baseman, Betts has moved to the outfield only recently and played right field for the first time this week.
Betts didn't get the start Saturday in the Red Sox outfield. That'll come on Sunday night when he plays right field in the series finale in the Bronx.
Red Sox manager John Farrell, in his pregame media session on Saturday, said the Yankees starting ace Masahiro Tanaka was a factor is not turning to Betts on Saturday.
"There was some thought into that. That doesn't mean he won't play against right-handers," Farrell said. We have every intention of him being in the lineup tomorrow but, again, I thought just a day to come in and get his feet on the ground, go through a normal work day was the way to go here."
To make room for Betts, right-handed starter Rubby De La Rosa was optioned to Pawtucket, despite his impressive stint with the Red Sox.
“He’s here because of what he’s done and what he’s doing and not to do more than that. He isn’t looked upon as the savior for the Red Sox," Farrell said. "He’s looked at as a young, talented, exciting young player. And we’re looking forward to him taking the field for us and confident that he’ll be able to contribute.”
"I think I'm as ready as I'm going to get," Betts told Ian Browne of mlb.com. "Only time will tell, getting out there and playing and learning more will tell if I was ready or not. But the front office felt I was ready; I have to feel like I'm ready as well."
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington told mlb.com that Betts had earned the quick trip to the majors.
"Really, it was mostly about Mookie," Cherington told Ian Browne. "When a guy is performing at the level and doing it the way he's doing it and controlling the strike zone and performing in all different areas of the game, that kind of guy deserves consideration. We happen to have a need for as many good players as we can get, particularly guys that can move around positions, cover different spots. We talked about it for probably two or three days and just decided it was the right time."