Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Mookie Betts found himself in the leadoff spot whenever was in the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup during Spring Training, Summer Camp and exhibition games, but that changed on Opening Day.
Betts, fresh off signing a 12-year contract extension, was moved to hitting back of Max Muncy for the Dodgers’ first game of the season. It was a curious change considering Betts’ preference to bat leadoff and the Dodgers’ early handling of the situation.
Nevertheless, the switch of having Muncy — and perhaps Joc Pederson — figures to be one the Dodgers will keep with for the time being when facing a right-handed starter.
“With the way the Giants or any other team potentially could try to deploy relievers to get matchups, kind of staggering the left and right throughout the lineup protects us,” manager Dave Roberts explained.
“And poses some more challenges and doesn’t give other teams the runway. Talked to the guys, they’re fine with it. I think it’s the best thing for us going forward. For the foreseeable future, I think that’s what we’re going to do.
“But I’m not going to hold myself to one set lineup indefinitely. We’ll see how it plays out.”
The Dodgers have been devoid of a set leadoff hitter during Roberts’ tenure and keeping that flexibility has trickled down throughout the lineup as well. He figures to further tap into that philosophy given an expectation teams will more aggressively manage their bullpens this season.
“I think anything is on the table (with opposing relief pitchers). I do think that’s (aggressive usage) certainly more of an option. So just kind of staggering the lineup guards against that a little bit more,” Roberts said.
Due to face a southpaw Friday night, Betts returned to the leadoff spot.
Rotating veterans at DH
The Dodgers, arguably more than any other team in baseball, are likely to benefit from a universal designated hitter. Like with the leadoff spot in the lineup, Roberts previously said he intends to rotate players at DH, strategically using it to provide regular starters with some rest.
That planning figures to primarily involve Muncy, Pederson, AJ Pollock and Justin Turner. “I think AJ, Joc, I can see J.T. at times, and potentially Muncy. Those four guys I could see doing it,” Roberts said. “Maybe once or twice you might see Mookie or Cody in that spot.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in our shows, and more!