Dodgers News: Mookie Betts Confused By Perception Of Not Caring

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Los Angeles Dodgers Spring Training is in full swing this week with position players having officially joined pitchers and catchers for workouts at Camelback Ranch.

World Series expectations for the Dodgers have seemingly been heightened because of the signings of Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, but there is also individual pressure on Mookie Betts.

Following back-to-back exits in the National League Division Series, Betts has been the face of the Dodgers’ offensive letdown. He’s gone a combined 2-for-25 over their last two playoff appearances, and endured some criticism due to a perceived lack of fire or response to the Dodgers’ shortcomings.

That perception of Betts is one he’s confused by, per Dylan Hernández of the L.A. Times:

Mookie Betts cares. He really cares, and he doesn’t understand why anyone would think otherwise. “I don’t know where that came from,” Betts said.

Relying on Betts’ at the top of the lineup, the Dodgers have felt the impact when he’s failed to carry over his regular season success into October. The former American League MVP reiterated that is not for a lack of passion:

“I may not have hit well, I may not have played well,” Betts said. “This game is hard. It’s not that I don’t care.”

Prior to the playoffs, Betts put together one of his best offensive seasons. A .987 on-base plus slugging percentage was his second-best mark outside an MVP season in 2018, and Betts’ 39 home runs set a new career high.

Betts has repeatedly stated he did not feel more pressure in the postseason and that he simply went into a slump at an inopportune time.

Betts certainly wasn’t alone in coming up short during October, but his stature as a leader on the Dodgers roster and laissez-faire comments that followed, earned him a perception that the 31-year-old now is combating.

Does Shohei Ohtani take pressure off Mookie Betts?

Signing Ohtani to a 10-year, $700 million contract pushed the Dodgers into a new territory with their status as a franchise as they captured an entire fanbase that was solely dedicated to following the two-way star.

Betts is another beneficiary of Ohtani’s arrival because of the attention and pressure taken off of his plate. Ohtani doesn’t have to say much for buzz to follow. He’s been a member of the Los Angeles Angels, winning two MVP Awards while never playing in a playoff series since joining MLB.

Betts being a very quiet, naturally talented, yet cerebral player, is what has put him in the elite category of big league players. The 2024 season will be all eyes on the Dodgers, while Ohtani, Yamamoto and the new additions have the main spotlight.

It’ll be time for Betts to shake his postseason failures while being an MVP-caliber player in the slight shadow of the most gifted player in MLB history.

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