Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts is preparing for the season but he’s not entirely confident about making it to Opening Day.
Betts, who is slated to become a free agent after the season, told reporters on Monday he has reservations about the entire scene in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I still have my doubts, just based off what’s going on,” Betts said. “I’m definitely preparing the same way; I’m fully expecting to play. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t doubts that kinda go on when the facts aren’t in front of you.”
Betts, who was acquired from the Boston Red Sox in the offseason, is far from the only concerned major leaguer. Atlanta Braves All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman is among the players who have tested positive for the coronavirus while Dodgers left-hander David Price is among the players to opt out of the season.
Betts, the 2018 American League MVP, sees all the issues about testing going on around the league and admits he is concerned.
“We got camps being shut down and people going three and four days without tests,” Betts said. “You just don’t know what’s going on. And I know it’s hard. I’m not blaming or saying this, that and the other. It’s hard. But somebody’s gotta do it. And we have to just figure out the right way to do it.”
The 27-year-old Betts said he is supportive of the decision to sit out by Price, his teammate in Boston who came over to the Dodgers in the same deal.
“He has to take care of himself. And if that’s what he feels is best for him and his family, then I’m fully on board with it,” Betts said of Price. “He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever had, he’s a competitor, plays the game the right way, great in the clubhouse. He’s doing this for himself, and sometimes you have to do things for yourself.”
Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts told reporters that the testing “has been expedited, has been fluid.”
That isn’t the way Betts sees it. He is keeping an opening mind but the evidence isn’t quite matching up.
“I can’t say I’m that confident because I haven’t been shown yet,” Betts said. “It’s kind of tough to be confident in something that hasn’t proved to be foolproof. There’s not a whole lot really I can do; it’s out of my control. But it’s in someone’s control, and whoever’s control it’s in has to find a way to make it work or this whole operation may not be able to work.”
The shortened 60-game season could be the only one Betts spends with the Dodgers.
But a foray into free agency might not prove to be as lucrative as the four-time All-Star felt it would be when he reportedly turned down a 10-year, $300 million deal from the Red Sox in the offseason. He reportedly countered with a 12-year, $420 million proposal that the team turned down and was soon dealt to the Dodgers with Price and cash in exchange for outfielder Alex Verdugo and minor-league infielders Jeter Downs and Connor Wong.
However, Betts said he doesn’t regret turning down the $300 million package.
“Once I make a decision, I make a decision,” Betts said. “I’m not going back to question myself. I don’t worry about that. The market will be what the market is. We’ll just kind of cross that bridge when we get there. But for right now, it’s just the (health and safety) things that I’m worried about. That whole (free agency) thing is on the back burner.”
Betts batted .295 with 29 homers and 80 RBIs in 150 games last season. In six campaigns with Boston, he had a .301 average with 139 homers and 470 RBIs in 794 games.
Betts led the AL with a .346 average in his 2018 MVP season.
The Dodgers open the season on July 23 against the visiting San Francisco Giants.