There’s a side to Brett Lawrie’s story.
That’s what he said after appealing the four-game suspension handed down by MLB on Wednesday. Lawrie, of course, spiked and hit umpire Bill Miller with his helmet during Tuesday’s game.
And he’s not really sorry about it.
“The only thing I regret is the helmet hitting him,” Lawrie said. “I never meant to do that and it shows. I threw it off the ground, it took a bad hop and it hit him totally by accident. I never meant to throw it at him. As that’s coming across, it seems like a lot of people are saying that I threw it at him, I never threw it at him. I never had any intentions of hurting anybody. I was just frustrated at the play at the time and that’s baseball for you.”
Of course, the bad hop comment is ridiculous. Whether Lawrie meant to hit him or not, the helmet bounced exactly the way it should have given the way he threw it. Lawrie probably didn’t intend to hurt anyone, but he was out of control and nothing so far suggests that he’s learned anything from it.
The Red Sox have some tough decisions to make in advance of the World Series next week; namely, what to do with some of their hottest-hitting players once the series shifts to a National League park — and National League rules. During a press conference on Saturday, manager Alex Cora said he’d be open to the idea of starting All-Star right fielder Mookie Betts at second base when the club’s regular DH, J.D. Martinez, is forced to play the outfield during away games.
The Red Sox carry home field advantage through the Fall Classic, so Games 1 and 2 will be played at Fenway Park — as well as Games 6 and 7, should those become necessary. Depending on the outcome of NLCS Game 7 later tonight, World Series Games 3 through 5 will be played at Dodger Stadium or Miller Park. That’s when Betts might take over the keystone from Ian Kinsler and Brock Holt, both of whom have shared second base duties over the course of the 2018 postseason.
The idea isn’t without merit. Betts and Martinez comprise two of the team’s top talents at the plate and, should the Red Sox need to stave off elimination in Games 4 and 5, sitting either of them doesn’t make sense. The 26-year-old Betts led the team with a staggering .346/.438/.640 batting line, 32 home runs, 30 stolen bases, and career-best 10.4 fWAR over 614 PA, while Martinez posted some career totals of his own, slashing .330/.402/.629 with 43 home runs, a 1.031 OPS, and 5.9 fWAR in 649 PA. This wouldn’t be the first time Betts has taken reps at second, either, as he’s logged 15 games at the position over the course of his five-year career, most recently during a 4-1 win over the Yankees in August.
Whether or not Betts is considered a lock for all three games is another question, one to which Cora didn’t give a definite answer. “I don’t know, man,” the skipper told reporters Saturday. “[Betts] already played second during the regular season, so there’s always a chance, I guess.” He later added that while Betts would be taking ground balls at second, it’s part of the routine he’s maintained all year — so nothing should be read into it until a clear decision has been announced.