Dodgers notebook: Mookie Betts injury ripples, Petersen’s MLB debut, Dave Roberts’ skills

What are the ripple effects of the injury to Mookie Betts? What is the biggest strength for Dodgers manager Dave Roberts? Learn this and more in the latest Dodgers notebook.

Mookie Betts #50, Shohei Ohtani #17 and Freddie Freeman #5 of the Los Angeles Dodgers look on during the national anthem prior to the 2024 Seoul Series game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres at Gocheok Sky Dome.
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - MARCH 20: Mookie Betts #50, Shohei Ohtani #17 and Freddie Freeman #5 of the Los Angeles Dodgers look on during the national anthem prior to the 2024 Seoul Series game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres at Gocheok Sky Dome on Wednesday, March 20, 2024 in Seoul, California. (Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

DENVER — The Los Angeles Dodgers came into Monday’s opener of a four-game series at Coors Field against the Colorado Rockies with its star power slightly diminished and plenty of questions about what comes next.

In roughly 24 hours, the Dodgers saw starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto leave his Saturday start against the Kansas City Royals after just 2.0 innings with what was eventually called a rotator cuff strain, landing him on the 15-day injured list. On Sunday, Mookie Betts suffered a fractured left hand, an injury that could keep him away from the Dodgers for six to eight weeks.

The ripple effects of the Dodgers injuries

As our own Eric Treuden wrote in this article (and Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts confirmed to the media on Monday), Miguel Rojas and Enrique Hernandez will get the bulk of time at shortstop for now, with Rojas playing there in three of four games in Denver and Hernandez holding down the position on Wednesday.

Roberts added that Chris Taylor would play second base on Tuesday and Hernandez would see time at third base as well, but shortstop (barring any more shockwaves) is Rojas first and Hernandez second for now.

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Shohei Ohtani batted leadoff on Monday night in Denver, his second time doing that this season. However, according to Roberts, that will likely be something that L.A. employs more in Betts’ absence.

“I think, for me, for Shohei, it’s just to continue what he’s been doing,” Roberts said. “I don’t expect him to change, I don’t expect Will Smith to change. He (Ohtani) has hit leadoff in his career, so I felt comfortable that it’s a position he’s known before.”

The plan worked just fine on Monday, with Ohtani going 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored as Los Angeles recorded a 9-5 win. He became the first player in Dodgers history to have a game with at least three hits, two doubles and one stolen base at Coors Field.

Back to Betts, Roberts said that he was using “a Corey Seager timeline” to judge Betts’ return. In 2021, Seager, then with the Dodgers, was hit in the hand and lost from May 15 until July 30, a total of 76 days.

“I think it’s very comparable as far as the injury,” Roberts said, acknowledging that every player heals differently.

Michael Petersen prepares for Dodgers debut

With Yamamoto and fellow Dodgers pitcher Michael Grove heading to the injured list officially on Sunday, Los Angeles called up Petersen, a right-hander who has pitched in the minor leagues for eight seasons, logging 263 innings in 167 games (18 starts) with a 10-11 record and 4.04 ERA.

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Petersen has never made an MLB appearance, but has impressed so far this season for Triple-A Oklahoma City, posting a 2-0 record and a 1.61 ERA. Also, he has 31 strikeouts in 22.1 innings and has held hitters to a career-best .128 batting average this season.

Sitting in the visitor’s clubhouse on Monday, Petersen not only expressed his excitement about joining the Dodgers, but also discussed the irony of his MLB debut potentially coming in Denver after spending the last two minor league seasons with the Rockies.

“When I was with them (the Rockies), of course I dreamed of coming up and playing at Coors Field for my debut,” Petersen said. “It’s just now, it will be in another jersey. That’ll be fun.”

Petersen’s debut, when it happens, will also enter him into Great British baseball history as well.

Bud Black spills on Dave Roberts’ superpower

The managers of the Rockies and Dodgers are close friends and previously worked together with the San Diego Padres. Roberts has even said in the past that Black is the person who has had the most impact on him as a coach.

On Monday, I asked Black about Roberts, not as a friend, but as an opposing manager and what it is about the Los Angeles skipper that stands out to him.

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“His people skills. His relationships with players, executives, and owners. That’s important in this day and age, and I think that is a real part of what makes him a good manager,” Black said. “I think he’s a lifelong learner. He came to our staff in San Diego, asked a ton of questions, watched a lot and learned. Like any manager, right?

“I think the biggest thing is the pitching staff and what he learned in San Diego. He’s taking that still learning there in Los Angeles. I think his connection with people is probably his biggest strength.”