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Red Sox report: Mookie Betts believes Red Sox 'could have had more fun' in 2017

Rob Bradford
February 15, 2018 - 10:44 am

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- We're starting to get a bit more insight as to how the Red Sox' clubhouse felt in 2017.

First were the words from Rick Porcello and Joe Kelly while appearing on the Bradfo Sho podcast, suggesting it wasn't until after Game 2 of the American League Division Series that the Sox finally felt a sense of what they needed to be. Now, Mookie Betts offered his take.

"We could have had more fun," Betts said while meeting with the media at JetBlue Park Thursday. "I think we still enjoyed it. But we could have had more fun. Through the rough times, I think those are the times when we could have had a little more fun instead of being down so much. If we hit a rough patch this year, I feel like maybe we can learn from last year and continue to enjoy the game and maybe get out of it faster."

Betts elaborated on the lack of "fun" in the Red Sox' clubhouse.

"I think just tension in the locker room as far as if things are down," he said. "We have to find a way to smile and go out and refocus on the game now vs. kinda what's been going on. I think this year will be a little different. I'm going to approach things a little differently as far as, if I'm not playing well or if we're losing or whatnot, I can do my best to try and find a way to get everybody back happy, smiling, excited and going to play.

"There were times where we lost a couple games in a row and we weren't necessarily down but we were kind of pressing to try and get back to the winning side instead of just letting it happen, letting the game play out. Especially late in the season when the gap started closing as far as the winner of the division. I think we kind of started pressing a little bit instead of just playing and just playing the season out and letting whatever happened happen."

Part of the problem, as Betts pointed out, was trying to figure out how to live life without the presence of David Ortiz.

"Nobody is him," he said. "So we have to find our niche in the clubhouse and figure out what works for us and how to get back to that.

"I knew it would be kinda tough. I wasn't sure. I've never played without him so I didn't know how it would happen or what would happen. But I think last year was definitely a learning curve. I think this year we're getting to kinda know how it works without him now. We may have him around a little bit but I think we have to work on just focusing on us and who's in the clubhouse and figuring out a way to lighten things up throughout the whole process. ... I think as a whole group it's just going to take four or five, six guys to kinda fill that one spot. It just lets you know how important he was."

As for how the Red Sox might correct the problem this time around, both Betts and Xander Bogaerts suggested last season's experiences will go a long way to fill any leadership voids.

"We’re all grown men. I definitely believe we all learn from last year," Bogaerts said. "We had a lot of stuff going on last year, to be honest. We all live, learn and move forward. We can’t just sit back and keep reminding ourselves about the past. That’s not something we want to do." (Asked what the "stuff" was, the shortstop would only say, "I mean we all know. We all know what was going on. I don’t think I really want to get into details.")