Andrew Benintendi doesn’t know what kind of reception he’ll get from Red Sox fans at Fenway Park in his first game since getting traded to the Yankees
He says he has “no idea.”
Benintendi must know that many Red Sox fans still have love for him. He also understands from firsthand experience that the hate for his new team runs deeper and more consistently here than the MBTA. So when speaking to reporters ahead of the series opener on Friday, he gave what sounded like carefully-crafted responses: “Taking it all in”; “A lot of good memories here,” mentioning the postseasons and 2018 World Series, et cetera.
When pressed by NESN’s Jahmai Webster about how “weird” it must be to return to Fenway as part of the Evil Empire, he conceded, “Maybe a little bit.” Still, he kept it diplomatic:
"“I just went through this with the Royals… Other than that, it’s just another baseball game, but glad to be back here.”"
In other words, we won’t get any drama from Benny.
The situation would likely be more fraught if the Sox had been the ones to trade him to their biggest rivals, but such trades almost never happen. When the Sox acquired Adam Ottavino from the Yankees ahead of last season, it was only the second trade between the two teams since 1987. That’s not surprising, aside from the salary-dump variety, a trade between teams is meant to benefit both sides. But why would these two organizations ever want to help one another?
However, Benintendi compared this series to how it felt to play against the Royals immediately after they traded him to the Yankees, which seems, from the outside, to be a vastly different situation. Benintendi played 227 games for KC over 1 1/2 seasons; he played 485 games for the Sox over five years. His 2016 debut coincided with the first of three consecutive postseason berths. He was a rookie in David Ortiz’s final year, and in his third season, the team won a franchise-record 108 games and a World Series. He was a key figure in that historic run, making one of the greatest catches in Sox history to save an ALCS game from disaster.
In other words, there’s a depth to returning to Fenway Park that you wouldn’t think there would be to playing against the Royals.
But there’s also an argument to be made that his time in Kansas City was short but quite significant. It’s where he revived his career. Benintendi struggled a lot in his final two seasons in Boston, and by 2020, every at-bat looked like someone being led to the guillotine. He desperately needed a change of scenery in a lower-pressure market and got that at Kauffman Stadium. As a result, he won his first Gold Glove last year and became a first-time All-Star last month.
Benintendi also might just be giving these milquetoast answers because he doesn’t want to talk, and that’s fine. But it might sting a little for Sox fans who never wanted him to leave, to hear him sound so casual about coming home, especially considering he’s doing so in pinstripes.