Ian Kinsler left Friday’s Red Sox-Yankees game, resulting in an unexpected return to the infield dirt for Mookie Betts.
Kinsler walked, stole second, and scored on an Eduardo Nunez hit in the first inning. But in the top of the second, he did not return to the field, exiting the game due to what the Red Sox described as left hamstring tightness. With his departure – at a time when shortstop Xander Bogaerts is on the bench because of a hand injury — the Sox moved Betts to second base, with Steve Pearce moving from first to right field and Mitch Moreland coming off the bench to play first.
From 2012 through early 2014, Betts (taken in the fifth round in 2011) came up through the Red Sox farm system as a second baseman before moving to the outfield in May 2014 to open another avenue to the big leagues. At the end of the 2014 major league season, he played 14 games at second base with Dustin Pedroia on the disabled list.
That was the last time he’d played in the infield, though Betts continues to take groundballs in the infield to work on maintaining a quick release on his outfield throws. He was projected as a potential Gold Glover at second base before he earned the gilded piece of hardware in both 2016 and 2017 as a right fielder.