GLENDALE, Ariz. — It was at last year’s All-Star Game that Cody Bellinger came to Mookie Betts’s defense.
Betts entered the break hitting .272, below what observers had come to expect from a player of his caliber. Critics were quick to label his season to that point a “down year” after coming off a 2018 campaign in which he hit .346 and was named American League MVP. But Bellinger, who was on his way to being named National League MVP in 2019, offered some clarity on Betts’s season to that point.
“For people to repeat that every year or expect that, it’s crazy,” Bellinger said at the time. “I mean, he probably expects to repeat that, as well. Depending upon who you ask, he’s still one of the top three to five players in the game. He can impact the game offensively and defensively.”
Less than a year later, the two will make that impact together in the outfield at Dodger Stadium.
Betts and David Price were introduced as the newest members of the Dodgers Wednesday afternoon in Los Angeles. And early Thursday morning, Betts settled in at the Dodgers’ spring training complex at Camelback Ranch and made his way to the batting cages. It was there where he and Bellinger met for the first time as teammates.
“I’m really excited that he’s a part of this team,” Bellinger said. “I think it’s going to be something special this year. I’m really excited to get this going.”
The overall vibe surrounding this team after the acquisitions of Betts and Price is one of excitement. The Dodgers have a chance to win a World Series, and perhaps the pair from Boston is what gets them over the hump. But manager Dave Roberts noted that there will be an adjustment period for Betts and Price, as well as the team.
“You’re taking a very good ball club and you’re adding two very good ballplayers,” Roberts said. “There’s excitement, there’s curiosity as far as what make Mookie ticks. How he works on the day to day. How David ticks. I think there’s a little of a feeling-out process.”
Thursday was just the reporting date. The Dodgers will officially open their clubhouse to the media Friday morning prior to the first official workout for pitchers and catchers. The first glimpse of Betts and Bellinger on the field will have to wait until next week. But it will be worth it.
“It takes special players and people to come to this organization to make it better,” Roberts said. “It really does, because this is already a really good team. I think we’ve accomplished that.”