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Mookie Betts to miss several weeks after sustaining hand fracture in Dodgers’ win

Dodgers star Mookie Betts takes a pitch off his left hand during an at-bat at Dodger Stadium.
Dodgers star Mookie Betts takes a pitch off his left hand during an at-bat in the seventh inning of a 3-0 win over the Kansas City Royals at Dodger Stadium on Sunday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
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The good vibes derived from Tyler Glasnow’s dominant seven-inning start and Shohei Ohtani’s two-homer game were shattered in the seventh inning on Sunday when a 98-mph fastball struck the back of the left hand of Dodgers shortstop Mookie Betts, who writhed on the ground for a few minutes before coming out of the game.

The Dodgers went on to defeat the Kansas City Royals 3-0 in front of a sellout crowd of 52,789 at Dodger Stadium, but they lost their dynamic leadoff man in the process — X-rays showed that Betts suffered a broken bone in his left hand, and though he won’t need surgery, he will be sidelined for several weeks, if not months.

“It’s a big blow, it is,” manager Dave Roberts said. “I feel really bad for Mookie. He was having an MVP season. It’s very unfortunate, but you’ve got to move on, and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to be fine. We have really good players.”

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Mookie Betts is hit by a pitch during the seventh inning Sunday against the Royals at Dodger Stadium.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Mookie Betts, left, writhes on the ground after being hit by a pitch as manager Dave Roberts and a team trainer tend to him.
Mookie Betts, left, writhes on the ground after being hit by a pitch as manager Dave Roberts and a team trainer tend to him during the seventh inning Sunday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Betts, who is batting .304 with an .893 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 10 homers, 16 doubles, 40 RBIs and 50 runs, had a 1-and-2 count when he could not get out of the way of Royals reliever Dan Altavilla’s up-and-in heater. The ball hit Betts on the back of the left hand, which Betts clutched as he fell to the ground.

“I think that’s the first time I got hit in the hand, so I wasn’t sure [how bad it was],” Betts said after the game, his left hand wrapped. “I just went numb, and it hurt. Unfortunately, it’s broken. There’s nothing we can really do now.”

Betts did not travel with the team to Denver on Sunday night. He will be examined by Dr. Steven Shin, a hand specialist, on Monday.

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“What’s next? I’m honestly not sure,” Betts said. “Obviously, I’ll be watching the boys, cheering them on, but other than that, it’s just rest, maybe use it as a mental break, be ready to go whenever it heals up.”

Betts moved from right field to second base over the winter and from second base to shortstop because of Gavin Lux’s throwing woes in early March.

The Dodgers have an excellent defensive option at shortstop in Miguel Rojas, but Rojas is nowhere near the hitter Betts is, and he has been slowed this season by leg injuries that prevent him from playing every day.

Roberts said utility man Kiké Hernández will also be used at shortstop. The team will recall left fielder Miguel Vargas from triple-A Oklahoma City to replace Betts on the roster. Ohtani will likely be moved to the leadoff spot in the order.

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“It’s very tough to see as a teammate,” Ohtani, speaking through an interpreter, said of Betts. “He’s obviously a very important part of the team. If he’s out for some time, it’s really up to the rest of the team to pick him up.”

The Betts injury, which came on the same day the Dodgers put pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto on the 15-day injured list because of a rotator-cuff strain, put a damper on an otherwise successful afternoon for the Dodgers.

Dodgers starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto could miss months because of a rotator-cuff strain, but the team doesn’t think he’ll need Tommy John surgery.

June 16, 2024

Glasnow allowed three hits, striking out nine and walking one, over seven scoreless innings, and Ohtani and Freddie Freeman powered the offense with solo home runs.

Setup man Daniel Hudson struck out two of three batters in a scoreless eighth inning, and closer Evan Phillips threw a scoreless ninth for his 10th save.

Glasnow gave the Dodgers much-needed length after the team employed a “bullpen game” on Thursday night against the Texas Rangers and were forced into another bullpen game when Yamamoto left Saturday night’s start against the Royals after two innings because of injury.

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“I definitely knew I had to be efficient and try to fill up the zone,” said Glasnow, who improved to 7-5 with a 3.00 ERA in 15 starts. “I just tried to get ahead, mix up my pitches a bit more, not be so heavily reliant on the fastball, mix in the two-seamer, and it worked out today.”

Glasnow’s only real trouble came in the fourth, when Bobby Witt Jr. reached on a one-out infield single and Vinnie Pasquantino walked. He escaped the jam by striking out Salvador Perez with an 83-mph curve in the dirt and getting Adam Frazier to ground out to Betts, who ranged to the second-base side of the bag for Frazier’s grounder.

Dodgers starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow delivers during the first inning Sunday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

“He was absolutely fantastic,” Ohtani said of Glasnow. “Really, no threats throughout the game.”

Glasnow needed only 85 pitches, 62 of them strikes, to complete seven innings. He leaned heavily on his four-seam fastball, which averaged 96.0 mph, and an 83-mph curve that he used to induce eight of his 15 swinging strikes. He also got five called strikes with the curve.

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“I’ve been able to land it for strikes the last couple of starts,” Glasnow said of his big breaking ball. “I’ve made some mechanical adjustments to try to keep it in the zone as opposed to just always trying to strike out guys with it.”

Glasnow’s third pitch is usually an 89-mph slider that he threw 15 times on Sunday, but he also threw a 96.8-mph two-seam sinker 15 times on Sunday after throwing it only 64 times in his first 14 starts.

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw is happy with the progress he has made from offseason shoulder surgery as he eyes a potential return in late July.

June 13, 2024

“It’s basically just a heater, so it’s not like you have to learn a new pitch, and I think it gets me behind my four-seamer, too,” Glasnow said. “I’ve been a lot more comfortable throwing it kind of up and in to righties, and today to a lefty. I’m just trying to mix it in a little bit more to not be so predictable.”

Ohtani gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead when he “used the big part of the field,” as Roberts likes to say, crushing a 451-foot solo home run — his second-longest of the season — to left-center field off Royals right-hander Brady Singer in the third inning.

Ohtani had been “getting a little too rotational” in his swing over the past week, Roberts said, causing him to pull off pitches early and hit too many ground balls to the right side, but he stayed on Singer’s 93-mph sinker for his 18th homer of the season, a laser that left his bat at 114.3 mph.

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“That swing he took for that homer to left-center, that’s as good a swing as I’ve ever seen,” Roberts said. “When he does things the right way, gets his pitch, uses the big part of the field, it’s pretty special.”

Ohtani then crushed an 80-mph first-pitch slider from Singer over the right-field wall to lead off the sixth inning for his 19th homer of the season and 18th multiple-homer game of his career, this shot leaving his bat at 110.7 mph and traveling 400 feet.

Freeman followed with his 10th homer of the season, driving a 2-and-0 slider from Singer 401 feet to right-center field for a 3-0 Dodgers lead.

“That last homer was a slider down below,” Roberts said of Ohtani, “and for him to hit it like that instead of pulling it foul or hitting on the ground speaks to him seeing the ball better.”

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