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Red Sox to shift Mookie Betts to second base temporarily

Mookie Betts has performed well in the outfield, but for a variety of reasons he’ll shift to his natural position, second base.
FILE/MATTHEW J. LEE/GLOBE STAFF
Mookie Betts has performed well in the outfield, but for a variety of reasons he’ll shift to his natural position, second base.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Red Sox have said for weeks they wouldn’t move rookie Mookie Betts back to second base. But like many of their plans this season, that has changed.

Manager John Farrell said Thursday that Betts would temporarily be shifted back to second. His first game there could come as soon as Friday.

The decision was made for several reasons.

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The Red Sox are running out of second basemen with Dustin Pedroia out for the season following wrist surgery on Thursday.

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The Sox also are without infielder Brock Holt, who has not played since Sept. 5 because of concussion-like symptoms.

At the same time, center field is going to become crowded when the team adds Rusney Castillo to the roster, which should be next week.

Farrell suggested Betts, who played right field in Thursday’s 6-3 win over the Ryoals, would play second base “fairly regularly.”

“If that’s what he said, I’m ready whenever,” Betts said.

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Betts has not played second base since a Triple A game on July 28. Before that you have to go to back to June 21. But he isn’t too worried about it.

“It’s at a different level now. I think it’ll just be a little adjustment here,” Betts said. “But it’s second base, the same thing I used to do . . . If there’s a couple of bumps in the road, that’s fine.”

Outside of a few games at shortstop, Betts played only second base from 2012-13 in the minors.

That changed in mid-May when the Red Sox started playing him in the outfield. All 37 games Betts has played in the majors have been in the outfield.

Now he’s going back, at least for a few weeks.

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“I’m kind of excited to get back at second base. Nothing against the outfield,” Betts said. “I’m kind of excited to get back in the infield where a lot of the action is. Whatever number he puts me in the lineup, that’s where I’ll go play.”

Farrell said the Red Sox still view Betts as an outfielder in the long term and that moving him back to second now is a reaction to the circumstances in which the team finds itself.

Betts also could be a valuable trade chip this winter.

“Still see him as an outfielder. There hasn’t been talk of moving him to the left side of the infield based on the history already at the minor league level,” Farrell said. “To his credit, he’s in the midst of transitioning to center field, I think at not only a rapid pace and doing at the highest level but handling it well.”

Farrell said that Castillo and Jackie Bradley Jr. would share duties in center field.

Bradley started in center field on Thursday against the Royals with Betts in right field.

Pedroia surgery

Pedroia had surgery at the Newton-Wellesley Surgery Center and according to the Red Sox, Dr. Matt Leibman performed “a successful first dorsal compartment release and a tenosynovectomy of his left wrist.”

The surgery was related to the repair of the ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb Pedroia had done after the 2013 season and associated damage. In simple terms, the latest surgery relieved scar tissue and inflammation that had built up in the area.

The release should create better range of motion.

Farrell spoke to Pedroia after the surgery.

“Dustin felt immediate relief from the tightness that he was dealing with. So, an encouraging sign,” the manager said.

Pedroia will need six weeks to recover. By having the surgery now, Pedroia will be able to start his offseason workouts in November.

Pedroia will rejoin the team on Sept. 23.

Concern for Holt

Holt was sent to be examined by Dr. Michael Collins, a head trauma specialist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The Red Sox believe Holt could be feeling the effects of a collision with Pedroia during a game at Toronto on Aug. 25.

Holt played 10 games after Pedroia accidentally hit him the head with his forearm. He did not complain of problems at the time.

“He was showing some signs of improvement the last couple of days. Still, some of the lightheadedness and dizziness has not cleared up,” Farrell said.

Holt initially came out of the lineup because of an illness. But concussion-like symptoms have persisted.

Collins has treated several Red Sox players for concussions in recent seasons, including Stephen Drew and David Ross.

Castillo gets closer

Castillo did not play for Pawtucket in Game 3 of the International League finals at Durham but is expected to start in center field on Friday in Game 4.

The PawSox were beaten, 4-3, and trail in the series, two games to one. When the best-of-five series ends, the Red Sox are planning to bring Castillo to the majors.

Castillo, a Cuban defector, signed with the Sox last month and has played eight minor league games (.269, 7 of 26).

Enough for Owens

Lefthander Henry Owens will not be called up to the majors this season, Farrell said. The 22-year-old has thrown 167 innings this season and that has been deemed enough. Owens logged 135 innings in 2013. Owens had a 2.60 ERA in 20 Double A games. Counting two postseason games, he had a 4.89 ERA in eight games at Triple A. Owens went four innings and allowed three runs in Game 3 against Durham . . . Portland manager Billy McMillon, who led the Sea Dogs to a franchise-record 88 wins, has joined the coaching staff for the series against the Royals . . . NESN analyst Jerry Remy, who is dealing with a back injury, missed his third consecutive game and is not expected back in the booth until Tuesday’s game at Pittsburgh. Steve Lyons is with Don Orsillo for this series . . . The teams wore American flag patches on their caps on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The flags were at half-staff at Kauffman Stadium and there was a ceremony before the game.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.