Dodgers’ Mookie Betts looking to gain strength after up-and-down season

GLENDALE, Ariz. — You’re going to see more of Mookie Betts this season.

The Dodgers outfielder reported to spring camp on Thursday and weighed in at 178 pounds – “eight, nine pounds” heavier than he was last season, Betts estimated.

The need to gain strength was Betts’ one takeaway from an offseason visit to Driveline Baseball in Seattle this winter. A sophisticated, data-driven baseball performance facility, Driveline is more known for its work with pitchers but has increasingly been used by hitters as well to analyze their swing. Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes said “a handful” of Dodgers hitters went there this winter with Chris Taylor one of them as well as Betts.

But Betts was not motivated by a thirst for knowledge when he went to the facility.

“My employer told me I need to go,” he said with a smile. “That’s how I ended up going there.”

All that sophisticated data feedback resulted in Betts being told “I just need to gain strength, that’s pretty much it.” Usually listed at 180, Betts said he has dropped as low as 167 pounds – “so I was very tiny.”

But it was not because of a vegan diet (something he tried briefly that has lived on in fans’ minds).

“I haven’t been vegan for like the last four or five years. On the record, I’m not vegan anymore,” he said jokingly.

Betts said the experience at Driveline was “cool” but led to offseason adjustments in his diet, not his swing.

“No. That’s it. That’s all they said,” Betts said.

A fifth-place finish in the National League Most Valuable Player voting along with another Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award last season leaves little room for improvement. But Betts’ 2022 season was a roller coaster. After a miserable start (a .191 batting average 16 games into the season), Betts was red hot in May (a .342 average, 1.157 OPS and 12 home runs) and again in August (.330, 1.081 and nine homers). In between, though, he was not very good – a .228 average and .715 OPS.

“It was okay. A lot of downs. Some ups,” he said of his season.

“I’m not sure (why). I’m honestly not sure. … It definitely wasn’t from lack of effort.”


The free agent signings of right-handers Alex Reyes and Jimmy Nelson and outfielder David Peralta became official Wednesday. In order to add them to the 40-man roster, the Dodgers placed Walker Buehler, Blake Treinen and JP Feyereisen on the 60-day injured list.

The left-handed Peralta figures to be one-half of a platoon in left field. Over his career, Peralta has hit .294 with an .836 OPS against right-handed pitching and just .238 with a .663 OPS against lefties.

“I think so. We have a lot of guys on our roster that handle left-handed pitching,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “So to see a guy like David who throughout his career has been very, very good against right-handed pitching and can play the corners, he’s going to be very helpful, for me, for this ballclub.”

Peralta, Chris Taylor and Mookie Betts seem to be the only certainties in the Dodgers’ outfield picture with five others (Trayce Thompson, James Outman, Jason Heyward, Steven Duggar and Bradley Zimmer) competing for no more than two spots.

“That’s fair,” Roberts said of the roster math.

“We’ve got some guys that we’re going to be missing for the (World Baseball) Classic, so I think in spring training guys will get at-bats and as we get closer to finalizing the roster and all that stuff, it’ll become more clear. But yeah, there’s a lot of good outfielders. We have a lot of depth.”

Reyes is recovering from shoulder surgery and is not expected to be available until mid-season. Nelson, meanwhile, is healthy after Tommy John surgery and a flexor tendon repair. He has not pitched in a game since July 2021 but Roberts said Nelson is “a full go” in spring training this year, putting him in competition for a spot in the Dodgers’ deep bullpen.

“It’s been a long couple of years for him, so to be an active participant, I know he’s excited,” Roberts said, adding that the reports he has seen on Nelson indicate he is throwing “nice and loose, free and easy.”