Not the bone kind of break. Boston Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi had some bad luck last night, sustaining an injury just as his stock was rising.
Darren Hartwell of NESN kept the Fenway faithful updated on the status of the budding Red Sox star left fielder. At 11:20 p.m., Hartwell reported that “Benintendi will undergo an MRI on Thursday morning to evaluate a left knee sprain he suffered on the basepaths, manager John Farrell announced after Boston’s extra-innings loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.”
In the top of the seventh inning, Benintendi had doubled to have the Red Sox runners at second and third, ready to put up a deuce on the scoreboard. The next batter was Dustin Pedroia, who grounded into a fielder’s choice double play, smacking the ball to Rays shortstop Matt Duffy. Before the ball was thrown to first, Benintendi had already made a motion to third, but thought better of it, as he saw that Travis Shaw hadn’t moved from third to home plate. Benintendi tried running back to second base and keep out of any double play. The problem was that his left leg, especially the knee and ankle, looked to roll over onto itself after being tagged out, causing Benintendi to stumble in immense pain.
It was painful to anyone watching, as even the Rays looked almost embarrassed for having made the tag to get Benintendi out before throwing it to first base to complete the double play. It looked gruesome and made everyone remember how there are more important things in life than a game, even baseball.
One could almost hear the collective gasp of the entire Red Sox Nation, as Benintendi tried to pull himself up only to fall back down, with a grimace on his face that the world could see.
Farrell had to field questions after the loss, especially regarding Benintendi. As tough as it was for him to say, Farrell said to reporters, “He changed directions on the baserunning play and unfortunately felt the left knee grab him […] So to what extent the injury is, we’ll know more by game time (Thursday).”
Even David Ortiz, the face of the franchise, spoke about the incident with sadness in his voice. Jason Mastrodonato of The Boston Herald reported Big Papi saying, “That kid [Benintendi] has been doing so good for us. Losing him that way. . . . Hopefully it’s not bad. But the way they took him off the field it seems like it’s not looking good. Let’s wait and see what they say. Hopefully it’s a couple of days kind of thing.”
Benintendi is only 22 years old, so the injury is a bit heart-wrenching. He was drafted seventh overall by the Red Sox in the 2015 draft and climbed the minor-league ladder very quickly, making his debut for Boston just over a year later. Benintendi raised the heat level this August, hitting .324/.365/.485 with a home run and 10 RBIs, all coming from hitting at the bottom of the Red Sox lineup. His glove was just as on fire as his bat, too. The amazing catch that he made just two days ago, pulling a Rays home run back from over the fence, made Boston believe that they had finally found their full-time left fielder.
This injury is a significant pause in Benintendi’s development. No matter the wait time, he will be watching Chris Young or another replacement get the playing time in left field that Benintendi needed to continue on his path to stardom. He will get that chance again, it just depends on the extent of the damage on his knee. Much of the momentum that the Red Sox have had of late had a great deal to do with Benintendi and the excitement that he’s brought to the ball club.
Now, after that collective gasp, Red Sox Nation is holding their collective breath in the hopes that it will not be as serious as it looked.