Infielder Yuniesky Betancourt is certainly making the most of his opportunity with the Milwaukee Brewers, and that could not be more evident than his performance Tuesday night.
The Brewers never considered adding Betancourt to their active roster until just days before Opening Day. The only reason they gave him a one-year contract is because injuries began piling up. Reserve infielder Mat Gamel was done for the season with an ACL tear and first baseman Corey Hart was not going to be available until late May. Meanwhile, shortstop Jeff Bianchi and infielder Taylor Green were both placed on the 15-day disabled list, but have yet to see any action this season.
Milwaukee had no choice but to bring back their starting shortstop from 2011, the year they won the National League Central division. However, Betancourt, like veteran Alex Gonzalez who also was signed due to injuries, would not be playing shortstop. Instead, the 31-year-old would be a utility infielder and be used wherever the Brewers needed him most.
The fact that Betancourt was on a MLB roster with his old team was good enough for him. It did not matter if he started, or was used in a pinch-hit role. However, after third baseman Aramis Ramirez suffered a left knee sprain in the fourth game of the season, Betancourt has been suiting up in the starting lineup.
Betancourt’s biggest contribution so far this season came in the 10-8 victory over the San Francisco Giants Tuesday night. The right-handed batter crushed a grand slam off of Giants starter Barry Zito to add to Milwaukee’s eight-run third inning. Betancourt has had other decent games this year, but none are even remotely close to Tuesday’s performance.
What should also not be taken lightly are Betancourt’s defensive accomplishments so far this season. He has done a terrific job at first and third base, two positions he has hardly played in his career. In fact, this is his first season ever lining up at first. He has done a terrific job at both positions as he has recorded a perfect fielding percentage in 65 total chances.
The eight-year veteran is batting .265 with one home run, six RBI (tied for second on the team), two walks, two doubles and four runs in 34 at-bats this season.