FORT MYERS, Fla. — Mookie Betts will be back in center field soon.

Betts, who has won two straight Gold Gloves in right field, is likely to play some spring games in center before the regular season begins March 29 on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Betts has yet to play center this spring – and he hasn’t played center at all since 2015.

Manager Alex Cora has laid out his plans to use Betts in center field occasionally during road games this season in a scenario that would have J.D. Martinez on the field in one of the corner spots while giving Jackie Bradley Jr. some rest.

Getting Betts some reps at center has yet to be a priority during spring training, but that will soon change.

“I’m glad you brought it up because I have to do that in the next few days,” Cora said. “It’s just that you get caught up, not get caught up, but I want to see (Andrew Benintendi) in center, (Blake) Swihart in left, J.D. in right and left. We’re pretty sure (Betts) can play center. He can do that. But obviously now that you brought it up that’s a good idea. We’ll see when we do it.”


Benintendi has just two major league starts in center field while Betts played there regularly back in 2015, when he ranked fourth in the American League with nine defensive runs saved, and showed above-average range and an above-average arm.

Cora said he’s already spoken to Betts about playing center and the 25-year-old is up for it.

“He works hard at his craft,” Cora said. “Throwing – he does more than the regular outfielders. He’s very low fielding grounders. He hits the cutoff guy. He rarely messes up. He does a lot of things fundamentally sound out there. For a guy that has been playing outfield for a short period of time, it’s amazing the things he does.

“You see him out there and there’s certain balls that, in the dugout, you’re like, ‘No way he’s going to catch it.’ He’s playing with it, ‘Yeah, I got it.’ He’s awesome. He’s such an athletic guy that sometimes it amazes me what he does in right field.”

Mitch Moreland and Sam Travis hit home runs, Matt Barnes pitched two innings for the win and the Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 at Fort Myers, Florida.

BLUE JAYS: Marcus Stroman has his eyes on starting the fourth game of the regular season April 1 against the New York Yankees.


Stroman pitched two hitless innings against the Canadian junior national team in his first spring-training start Saturday after being sidelined by inflammation in his right shoulder.

“I’ll be out there the fourth game of the series and I’ll be ready to rock. I can’t wait,” said Stroman, who struck out two and walked one during a 27-pitch outing.

“I thought it went really well,” he said. “My change-up was great, sinker was good, slider will come along the next couple starts.”

ATHLETICS: Oakland pitcher Jharel Cotton will undergo season-ending surgery on his right elbow.

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