Mookie Betts' first game as Dodgers' 'permanent' shortstop includes mishandled ball, failed turn

Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Mookie Betts (50) throws to first as Los Angeles Angels' Zach Neto grounds in to a force out during the third inning of a spring training baseball game in Phoenix, Tuesday, March 5, 2024. Los Angeles Angels' Matt Thaiss (21) was out at second. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
The Los Angeles Dodgers announced Friday that Mookie Betts will play shortstop. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

The Los Angeles Dodgers have moved outfielder Mookie Betts to shortstop, manager Dave Roberts announced.

Ahead of Friday's spring training game versus the Cincinnati Reds, the 31-year-old was penciled in at shortstop, while Gavin Lux was slated for second base duties.

“Permanent, for now,” Roberts said.

The first ball hit towards Betts bounced off his glove and leaked into the outfield, when he attempted to backhand it.

Two batters later, Betts and Lux attempted to turn two, but Lux bounced the throw to first base and the runner was able to beat the throw.

Due to rain, the game was postponed with Los Angeles trailing 4-0 going into the sixth inning.

“This is something that I know he didn’t expect; we didn’t expect,” Roberts said.

Just two weeks ago, general manager Brandon Gomes was adamant that Lux would “absolutely” be the Dodgers' shortstop.

And now, 12 days before Los Angeles begins its season against the San Diego Padres in Seoul, South Korea, those plans have changed and the 10-year veteran will take over the position.

Before Lux tore his ACL last season, he played second base. He showed rust throwing the ball — including some notable errors to begin spring training — which prompted the Dodgers to pivot.

“He was feeling the toll of it,” Roberts said. “The calendar, where we’re at, we got to make a decision. I think right now that’s best for the Dodgers.”

According to Major League Baseball's Sarah Lang, Betts joins extremely rare company with this move. He's played 1,176 games as an outfielder, 100 as a second baseman and 16 at shortstop, and Betts becomes only the second player to play more than 1,000 games in the outfield, 100 at second base and 10 or more contests at shortstop.

Ed Delahanty, who played from 1888-1903 for the Philadelphia Quakers, Cleveland Infants, Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Senators, is the only other player to hit those marks. He played 1,346 games in the outfield, 131 at second and 94 at shortstop.

So if Betts, who made all 16 of his shortstop appearances last season, goes over 100 games at the position this season, it will make him the first player in history to do so.

Before Betts and Lux took the field, the Gold Glove pulled Lux aside to encourage him to keep going and work at improving.

"Nothing's changed, other than your view to home plate," Betts told reporters. "We're still up the middle together. We still are doing this thing together. So it doesn't really matter."