By Rob Way 3/8/2018

FT. MYERS, Fla — Mookie Betts has become one of the most recognizable names on the Red Sox roster. He is a 25-year-old right fielder who’s been with the Sox for four seasons. He says “it’s pretty special” to get the amount of attention he’s received.

“It’s a blessing from the man upstairs,” Betts said. “But, I know with that comes work.”

His career numbers so far are impressive, a .292 batting average with 78 home runs. He says spring training has been “pretty good” so far, and he likes having Alex Cora, the new Red Sox manager, in charge.

“He’s young, lively,” Betts said. “He relates to us really well. He knows how spring training and how the season goes, so he’ll be able to relate in that way.”

During the regular season, the Red Sox are scheduled to play the New York Yankees 19 times. Betts says this historic feud “means a lot” to him.

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“It’s still a game, the way another game is,” he said. “They got a great team now. I think we have a great team. I think it’s gonna be fun. It’s a renewed rivalry now.”

With both teams making improvements in the off-season, the Sox/Yankees rivalry might reach new heights this year, but the players think the build up is more for the people in the stands than the people on the field.

“It’s a fun one,” Blake Swihart, a Red Sox catcher, said. “It might be more of a rivalry between the fans than it makes us more intense players, but it’s a fun one.”

For Sox centerfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr., the rivalry doesn’t mean much.

“I don’t really get caught up in the whole rivalry thing,” he said. “I just want to win ball games.”

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