Red Sox leadoff man Andrew Benintendi is colder than ice
The Red Sox have made their way back to Fenway Park after a seven-game road trip down the East Coast. Getting some much-needed home cooking could be exactly what this team is looking for. During the last few games, we’ve seen both the offense and pitching show glimpses of brilliance with matching moments of frustration. Andrew Benintendi has found himself in the latter category far more often than the former in 2020, and he knows it.
Due to that cold spell as well as an attempt to give the fielder some rest, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke gave the left fielder the night off on Wednesday. Between that rest day and the off day yesterday, he’s gotten a chance to take a break and get out of his head a bit. Earlier today, Benny spoke with the media through Zoom, as has become custom during the pandemic, and he didn’t pull any punches in regard to his terrible start this season.
“It’s obviously not ideal,” Benintendi added about his slow start. “But I think everything’s amplified right now with the 60 games. Still working. I’m coming to the park every day excited that maybe it will click and I’ll get things going.”
It’s a good sign that he’s still optimistic and feeling as if he can rebound before the season fully slips away from him. Roenicke has often used Benintendi as the Red Sox leadoff man and unfortunately, that experiment has been a major failure. I was hoping that things would click for him this season as he had plenty of notice of his new role with the squad, but it hasn’t.
Watching him at the plate this year has been heartbreaking. He’s a guy with loads of talent but it feels like the confidence is fully gone. When he was batting with the bases loaded the other night I just wasn’t optimistic that he’d come through. Sure enough, he watched several very hittable pitches go right by and walked back to the dugout.
When he was left out of the game on Wednesday I recapped his numbers so I won’t dive too deeply here. Basically, Benny is an automatic out at the plate with nearly a 1/3 strikeout percentage and one of his two hits should’ve been an error. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a massive Andrew Benintendi fan, always have been and always will be.
“I think I’m maybe searching for something or making changes that don’t necessarily need to be made,” he said. “Or maybe I’m overthinking things.”
But this is starting to drift into some seriously bad waters. The good thing is that he continues to put in the work and is trying to analyze every at-bat to figure out what he needs to change to get back to his good form. With the way this season is going for the Red Sox, there isn’t much, if any, time left for him to figure things out. He needs to get his head back on straight so he can become a contributing member of this lineup, especially if he’s going to hit leadoff.
The trade deadline is just a few short weeks away and with the 2020 season slipping away from the Red Sox, nobody is safe. I wouldn’t be surprised if his name showed up on the ticker on the MLB Network that he’ll be heading elsewhere. I also wouldn’t be shocked if he’s kept in Boston due to his reputation and potential.
“It’s unfortunate that it’s the beginning of the year in a short season. So I wouldn’t say I’m putting pressure on myself. But hopefully, when things start to click, and I start hitting and I go on a little hot run, everything will balance back out.”
After this season the outfield will just be Benny and Alex Verdugo as both Kevin Pillar and Jackie Bradley Jr are heading for free agency. Unless one of those two gets an extension, the Sox will desperately need Benintendi going forward. It’s clear that he can’t be in the leadoff spot, but I’m not sure where else to plug him into the lineup. Possibly bump him back and place Verdugo in that top spot. This would get him back to his more natural role and would also allow him to get on for the bigger bats in the lineup.
Benintendi is back in the lineup tonight for Roenicke and the Red Sox and he’ll be looking to get his 2020 back on track. Despite Boston’s awful 4-8 record, this expanded playoffs and poor play of the other teams in the division, beyond the Yankees, there’s a small ray of hope. Getting his bat warmed up and cooking at the top of the order can only further those hopes of the postseason. If he continues to work and analyze his at-bats there’s a good chance that he can turn things around before it’s too late.