Alex Cora on OMF explains why he isn't worried about Mookie Betts

Amin Touri
June 25, 2019 - 3:21 pm

While reigning AL MVP Mookie Betts hasn’t quite posted the numbers this season that helped fill up his trophy cabinet in 2018, Red Sox manager Alex Cora isn’t worried.

In his weekly appearance on Ordway, Merloni & Fauria on Tuesday, Cora spoke about Betts’ all-around contributions to the game, even when his bat isn’t quite so loud.

"I think with Mookie -- and we talk about it all the time, we talked about it last year, a reminder [that] it really doesn't matter how you're doing numbers-wise, you're still dominating the game," Cora said. “The other day he was a little bit down on that game, he was 0-for-2, and he walked three times and we lost the game on Saturday and he feels like he wasn't contributing, and the next day I said, 'Dude, hold on, come here. You got on base three times, you scored from second, you can steal bases, there's ways you can dominate the game.'”

Cora was referring to Saturday’s loss to the Blue Jays, when Betts was hitless, but reached base three times, stole a base and scored twice.

“And not everybody can do that,” said Cora. “If you don't hit, you're not contributing — with Mookie, he gets on, he can run, he can play defense, so I try to remind him, dude, it doesn't matter, you show up, you're impacting the game.”

Betts’ slash line has dropped from a stellar .346/.438/.640 last season to .266/.386/.469 in 2019, still an above-average season at the plate but not quite MVP material. Still, the three-time All-Star is walking even more than he did last season and rates as one of the betters defensive right fielders and baserunners in the league.

According to Cora, those conversations with Betts have always been ongoing, as he’s always looking to improve.

"That happened last year when he was hitting .340, .360, whatever, and it's happening this year,” Cora said. “One thing for him, he's always searching, he's always searching. I think Lou [Merloni] noticed it early in the season, looking for feedback from the dugout, you don't see that often but he was doing it in the dugout, talking to guys and trying to find that swing. The two line drives two nights ago one to right field, one up the middle, I think put him in a good spot, yesterday he goes deep to center field, but we'll see."

The second-year skipper also addressed perceived changes in Betts’ body language, which Cora just attributes to his star outfielder’s desire to get better.

"They see a different guy compared to last year, but it's not the reason, the reason that they feel that he looks that way, they're not right,” Cora said. “I just feel that this is a kid that, he's searching, he's thinking, and he knows how important he is for us, and he takes it personal. Some guys don't show it, other do, and in his case, when you see him in the dugout by himself, it's not that he's down — he's searching, he's thinking about what I did in that at-bat, where am I, did I swing at a strike, do I need to do this, that's the case."

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