CHICAGO (AP) — Mookie Betts had just rejoined the Los Angeles Dodgers when manager Dave Roberts asked if he was up for playing shortstop.
“He said, ‘Whatever you need,’ and he took it from there,” Roberts said.
Betts was activated from the paternity list Thursday and made his first big league appearance at shortstop in the seventh inning of a 6-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs. He fielded a grounder up the middle in the eighth and started a nice double play.
“A lot of fun,” Betts said. “That was like a dream come true.”
Los Angeles also recalled right-hander Andre Jackson from Triple-A Oklahoma City. Right-hander Evan Phillips was placed on the paternity list, and infielder Yonny Hernández was optioned to the team’s top farm club.
Betts’ wife gave birth to their second child Tuesday. He missed two games before rejoining the Dodgers ahead of a four-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
With infielders Miguel Rojas and Chris Taylor hampered by injuries, Roberts put Betts at shortstop after he reached on a pinch-hit single in the top of the seventh. The 30-year-old Betts, a six-time Gold Glove winner in right field, said he was drafted as a shortstop.
“I just want to win, so I’ll play wherever,” Betts said. “I’ll do whatever. I grew up doing this, so it’s nothing new to me. It’s new to everybody else.”
Luke Williams started at shortstop for Los Angeles. Williams was promoted Tuesday and made his third career start at shortstop in a 5-3 loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday.
Michael Grove was on the mound for Los Angeles, but the 26-year-old right-hander departed in the fourth inning with a right groin strain. Roberts said Grove is going to be placed on the injured list.
“He slipped on the mound in his warmups and assured us that he was good to go,” Roberts said, “and then in that fourth inning felt it again and we just wanted to just pull the plug right there.”
Taylor left Monday night’s game against New York in the eighth with soreness in his left side. He got into Wednesday’s game as a pinch runner.
Taylor tested his left side on the field before Thursday’s matchup with the Cubs.
“Still not certain how comfortable we are to put him out there and play defense, but today was a net positive day for Chris,” Roberts said.
Rojas went on the 10-day injured list on Wednesday with a left hamstring strain. He is with the team in Chicago and will start doing some “baseball-specific stuff” in the next few days, according to Roberts.
Gavin Lux was expected to be the team’s starting shortstop this year, but he is out for the season after hurting his right knee during spring training.
Los Angeles also is playing without catcher Will Smith, who was placed on the seven-day concussion IL on Sunday. Roberts said he is hoping to get Smith back at some point during the team’s next series at Pittsburgh.
“Each passing day gets a little bit better,” Roberts said.
The series opener against Chicago marked Jason Heyward’s first game at Wrigley since he was released by the Cubs in November. He walked as a pinch hitter in the ninth.
Heyward spent seven seasons in Chicago, helping the Cubs win the 2016 World Series for the franchise’s first title since 1908. The 33-year-old outfielder, who signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers in December, is expected to start Saturday and Sunday.
The Cubs showed a pregame video with highlights of Heyward’s time in Chicago and his community service work. The crowd responded with a warm round of cheers, and Heyward popped out of the dugout, patted his heart and held his left arm in the air to acknowledge the reception.
“It’s always fun to come to Wrigley,” said Heyward, who hit .245 with 62 homers for Chicago after signing a $184 million, eight-year contract before the 2016 season. “It’s a baseball spot. It’s historic. Good to see it. Only thing I wish we would see is the ivy in, but I know that’s like a couple months away. But still good to be here.”