BOSTON -- Mookie Betts got a lot of firsts out of the way before making his Fenway Park debut. In his first major league start, the 21-year-old Tennessee native collected his first hit and first run scored as the Red Sox claimed a series win at Yankee Stadium.
On Monday, Betts will make his first start in center field, providing Jackie Bradley Jr. (.207/.289/.295) with a day off.
In Betts’ view, it’s no different than any other day at the ballyard.
“I get to play today,” he said. “Nothing different than what I’ve been doing -- a chance to play.”
In the pregame, Red Sox manager John Farrell said he had no qualms playing Betts in center or right field at Fenway Park, meaning at-bats will likely come at the expense of Bradley, Daniel Nava (who makes the start in left field against Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta) and/or Jonny Gomes.
“Mookie’s in center field tonight, Jackie will likely be back out there tomorrow,” Farrell said. “That’s part of the rotation we’re trying to get to every day, or at least close to every day -- particularly with the young players on our roster.”
As Betts continues his transition to the outfield on the fly, he was cognizant of those who have helped him make such a swift and seamless adjustment, including injured outfielder Shane Victorino, who labeled Betts as a “star in the making” before Monday night’s game.
“Everybody here has really helped me a lot,” Betts said. “They made my first game, even though it was in Yankee Stadium and not in the backyard, I wasn’t nervous at all. Just knowing they have confidence in me, they’ve got my back, is real good.”
After all, if the pressure of playing at Yankee Stadium in his big league debut doesn’t faze him, there’s not much that will.
“I think it’ll be great,” Betts said of his Boston homecoming. “Going from Yankee Stadium where everybody is against you to coming to Boston where everybody is with you. Got to be a great feeling.”
Colbrunn returns: Red Sox hitting coach Greg Colbrunn returned to the team Monday night for the first time after suffering a subarachnoid brain hemorrhage while the team was in Cleveland.
“It’s great to have him back,” Farrell said. “Just to have him back is a great sign and the fact that he’s back in his role is nothing but a positive.”
Farrell added Colbrunn wasn’t likely to stick around for Monday night’s game as he works back toward full strength, but that he’s back performing his regular duties with the club.