Mookie Betts receives a standing ovation at Fenway Park

BOSTON – After 1,425 days, Mookie Betts is finally back in the ballpark he once called home.

When Bates stepped to home plate to lead off the Friday night game, the Fenway Park crowd gave him a loud applause. Then Bates tipped his blue Dodgers helmet, and the applause rose to a higher decibel level. Then, it was time to play baseball, and Bates appeared at first base to complete his first batter.

Bates, one of the most dynamic players in Red Sox history, returned to Fenway with a heavy dose of excitement and nostalgia, but not regret.

As you may have heard, things went well for the man who achieved the following in Boston: World Series in 2018 to cap off the season’s Most Valuable Player award; four consecutive Gold Gloves; four consecutive trips to the All-Star Game; Three Silver Slugger Awards.

Only since the deal that sent him to the Dodgers has Bates added another World Series ring, three more All-Star appearances, two more Silver Sluggers players, and this year, the prospect of hitting the 40-hit championship. For the first time in his career.

While Bates hadn’t improved much as a player by the time the Red Sox traded him on the eve of spring training in 2020, a person does quite normally at 1425 days.

And Bates is no different. When he returned to Fenway, Bates felt like he was remembering a different version of himself.

The kid who made his Red Sox debut at 21 and played his last game for his home club a week before his 27th birthday is now 30 and has a lot going on in his life beyond baseball.

And while his departure from Boston will be litigated in the media between now and the end of time, Bates said he’s comfortable with that. The bottom line is that the Red Sox made offers for Bates over the years, but the two sides could never agree on anything.

Three months into his tenure, chief baseball officer Chaim Blum has replaced a star five-tool with one year remaining at the helm. In turn, the Red Sox got Alex Verdugo and Connor Wong, two players who are part of their daily mix, and prospects who didn’t make it to the Jeter Downs (currently with the Nationals).

“It’s work and both sides have looked after themselves. So sometimes it might not be in the interest of both of them, you know, but that’s the way it is,” Bates said. “I wear the L.A. shirt. I have two babies. I have a production company, I got the podcast. I am very happy where I am now. I am so blessed and so happy.”

While Bates shared some memories of baseball, he said seeing some of the familiar faces who helped facilitate the first few years of his career was what excited him most about the weekend.

Bates has always enjoyed blending into his environment rather than being the center of attention. But there were moments on Friday — and there will be more throughout the weekend — when he couldn’t avoid the spotlight.

“Mookie doesn’t like a lot of attention. But when you become a star player, and you come back to a great city, you’ll get it,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

Bates had 30-40 members of his inner circle in Boston enjoy the weekend with him. Many of these people were ever-present during the Red Sox years, both at home and on the road.

“I definitely want to enjoy these moments, especially for my family,” Bates said. “I’m glad everyone is enjoying it. But I’m definitely here to take care of business.”

However, the first order of business of the weekend was for fans to shower Bates with appreciation as he made his first batter and for Bates to enjoy it all, which he did.

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