LOS ANGELES — Mookie Betts knows how it goes. Sometimes you think you found something … until you don’t.
The Dodgers outfielder is off to a slow start this season but had back-to-back two-hit games earlier this week after making an adjustment to his back foot in the batter’s box. But he went hitless Friday night and, according to Statcast, has yet to hit a ball on the barrel of the bat in any of the 24 at-bats this season that ended with him putting the ball in play.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts gave Betts his first day off this season on Saturday. So Betts was headed to the video room pre-game to see if he could unlock something to turn around his .226 start.
“The thing I love about Mookie and certain players is that they’re accountable,” Roberts said when told of Betts’ frustration. “Sometimes when you stink you stink. To say that and make light of it — you move on. I think he’ll be the first to tell you he stinks right now. But he’s a heckuva ballplayer and he’ll figure it out.”
Roberts’ diagnosis of Betts’ struggles is that the Dodgers’ leadoff man is “in between,” not sure when to be on the attack or when to wait for the right pitch.
“I just think he’s in between. I really do,” Roberts said. “I say that because there are balls that I think are in the hitting zone that he fouls off or misses or he flies out to right field or he gets out front and hits ground balls.
“I don’t know if it’s a mechanical thing, a patient thing, a be-more-aggressive thing. But he’s been there before so I’m sure he’ll work things out.”
Betts was late to play in Cactus League games during the spring, instead getting a lot of his work done in simulated-game settings instead. He had just 23 at-bats in actual games.
“Possibly,” Roberts said when asked if that might be a factor in Betts’ slow start. “But there were a lot of at-bats he took in sim games on the back fields that don’t show up on the stat sheet. I would say he was probably the leader in the clubhouse in taking those at-bats. Right before we left camp, he was swinging the bat real well. So I don’t think that’s the reason.”
Maury Wills became the fourth member of the “Legends of Dodger Baseball” in a pregame induction ceremony. Wills, 89, was not able to attend in person. He joined Don Newcombe, Fernando Valenzuela and Steve Garvey in the elite group.
Wes Parker, who was Wills’ teammate for parts of seven seasons (1964-72), said Wills had a singular impact on the Dodgers’ offense during his era.
“We needed Maury to get on base, which he would do with bunts, chopping the ball off the plate, hitting a little infield ground ball and beating it out,” Parker said. “Once he was on base, he was a tremendous base-stealing threat. He could steal bases almost at will. Very very smart about getting leads, getting jumps, reading pitches, and also once he was on second getting to third somehow, tagging up and scoring.
“Without Maury we basically had no offense because we were not a power hitting team.”
Roberts wore No.30 as a player and now as Dodgers manager in tribute to Wills.
On the Dodgers’ career leaderboards, Wills ranks first in stolen bases (490) and 10th in at-bats (6,156), runs (876) and hits (1,732).
The “Legends of Dodger Baseball” recognizes inductees with a plaque honoring their Dodger achievements, which will also be on permanent display at Dodger Stadium.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman would not comment on reports this week that Trevor Bauer might be planning to show up at Dodger Stadium on Sunday and force his way back into a more active status.
Bauer has been on administrative leave since last July when accusations of sexual assault against him came to light. The most recent leave was set to expire on Saturday but MLB and the players’ union reached agreement to extend it another week.
MLB continues to investigate the situation and Friedman has repeatedly said the team will have no comment on Bauer until that investigation is complete.
“We’re just waiting for more information (from MLB),” Friedman said again Saturday.
Friedman said the Dodgers have had no contact with Bauer or his representatives.GROUP EFFORT
Coming out of a short spring training, there were concerns about how pitchers would handle the transition into the season without the normal buildup. Eight games in, the Dodgers have not had to make any changes to the group of 16 pitchers who opened the season.
It has been a best-case scenario to this point, Roberts acknowledged.
“Yes,” Roberts said. “I think overall the body of work from the pitching staff … has done a fantastic job. We’ve been able to not lean on guys early which was our goal. I would have taken the over on the roster moves up to this point.”
Reds (RHP Tyler Mahle, 1-0, 1.00 ERA) at Dodgers (LHP Andrew Heaney, 0-0, 0.00 ERA), Sunday, 1:10 p.m., SNLA, 570 AM
J.P. Hoornstra contributed to this report.