Mookie Betts looks to follow up on title, MVP award
FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Mookie Betts won a World Series in October, became a first-time dad nine days later, earned his first AL MVP award and was part of a team that won a professional bowling event.
What can the 26-year-old do for an encore with the Boston Red Sox?
"He can do whatever he wants in sports," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "He can golf. He can shoot the basketball and he won a tournament in bowling. He can do it all. He's just gifted."
"Yeah, it's been fun. It's been a great year," Betts said Thursday. "It's a new year now, so you have to look at in hindsight and smile about, know what's going on now and take care of things and view things that way."
He hit a major league-leading .346 with 32 homers and 80 RBIs last year. Betts likely will be dropped a slot to second in the batting order behind Andrew Benintendi.
Betts was a part of a Red Sox team that won a club-record 108 games and Boston's fourth World Series title in 15 season. During the offseason, girlfriend Brianna Hammonds gave birth to the couple's first child, a daughter they named Kynlee Ivory. He won the AL MVP, his third Gold Glove and teamed this month with pro bowler Tommy Jones, winning the PBA Celebrity Invitational.
After finishing second to Mike Trout in the 2016 AL MVP vote, Betts put pressure on himself the following season and hit a career-worst .264 with 24 homers and 102 RBIs.
"Having the struggles, I kind of know what to expect, what not to do," he said. "Hopefully, I'm going to use that to my advantage and have another good year. I think just going out and playing, continuing to work hard. I think I'm a different player now than I was then. Fortunately, I was able to have a great year."
Left-hander David Price changed his number from 24 to 10 and didn't explain why.
"I'm going to let you guys figure it out. It's not that tough," he told reporters. "If you know me at all, I think you can get it."
It led to number of guesses that the pitcher rejected.
World Series MVP Steve Pearce arrived and joined Dustin Pedroia, Mitch Moreland and Brock Holt during batting practice in a cage on a back field. A small speaker on the grass played country music from an iPhone.
"It was a fun offseason," Pearce said. "I think a little bit's changed, but I would say for the most part I had a fun offseason."
Notes: Cora said 2B Pedroia "looks good." The infielder took some grounders before hitting in the cage. He's attempting to return after a left knee injury cost him all but three games last season. .. Price joked that he thought RHP Ryan Brasier was left-handed the first time he was running in from the bullpen last year.