GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Mookie Betts still has some work to do, settling in with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
On the field, though, he’s fine.
“The hardest thing is finding a house and learning everybody’s name,” Betts said Sunday after making his Cactus League debut. “The baseball’s the same. We all have the same focus.”
Betts led off and played right field for the Dodgers against the Chicago Cubs at Camelback Ranch. He received an enthusiastic welcome from the sellout crowd of 13,282 when he was introduced before the game with the rest of the Dodger starters and again when he batted in the first inning.
He flied out to left in his first at-bat, flied deep to right in the third inning and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to center in the fifth inning before coming out of the game.
“Just seeing him at the top of the order, in our lineup, makes everybody around him better,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after the Dodgers beat the Cubs 4-2. “You felt the energy from the fans too.”
Betts, 27, was dealt to the Dodgers from Boston after the two parties were unable to come to an agreement on a long-term contract. He is a free agent after this season.
But after playing in Boston, winning an MVP and a World Series there, he doesn’t feel any extra pressure on a new team with high expectations, or entering his free-agent season.
“I try to channel it into working hard,” he said. “I don’t worry about it.”
Roberts has been impressed with Betts’ work ethic, as well as his mental approach and overall attitude.
â€œI knew he’d be professional in every sense of the word,â€ Roberts said. â€œI didn’t realize he’d be as open to talking about how he’s feeling at the plate or what he does defensively. A lot of guys just do things, but to kind of share of information, he’s always willing to have a conversation about baseball.â€
Kenley Jansen also made his spring debut, working a perfect second inning for Los Angeles. Jansen, 32, struck out two Cubs.
He is coming off a season that saw him post the highest ERA (3.71) of his 10-year career, all with the Dodgers.
Jansen never really got going after a slow start last spring but he threw as hard as 93 mph in a 14-pitch outing on Sunday.
“It just seems like he’s synced up with his body, his arm’s catching up,” Roberts said. â€œIf he can stay there, a lot of good things are going to happen.â€
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