Red Sox notes: Andrew Benintendi likely to get first crack at leading off

Rob Bradford
February 17, 2020 - 3:39 pm

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Now that Mookie Betts is gone there no easy answers when it comes to the top spot in the Red Sox' batting order.

But listening to interim manager Ron Roenicke Monday it certainly appears as though Andrew Benintendi is going to be first in line when it comes to serving as the Sox' leadoff hitter.

"We’ll see what happens. Benny is always a guy I bring up because he did it last year because he’s an on-base guy. I know he can hit, he’s a really good hitter and has a really good eye," Roenicke noted. "He takes pitches, he does everything you need as a leadoff hitter and he can steal bases too so I like him in the leadoff spot we’ll see in camp - I'm sure I’ll have a conversation with him and if he’s good with it, we’ll try and see how it goes and see how everybody else fits in."

Benintendi began the 2019 season as the team's leadoff hitter but struggled in that role.

As the first batter for a game, the lefty hitter managed just a .119 batting average (5-for-42) with five walks in 48 games. Overall, in the top spot he hit .256 with a .767 on-base percentage.

As for other candidates, Alex Verdugo hit leadoff just once for the Dodgers in 2019, while Kevin Pillar manned the top of the Giants' order four times.

- If you were wondering why the Red Sox put the interim tag on Roenicke's job description, that has become clear: They are waiting for the findings of the MLB investigation before fully committing to a full-time position.

"Ron is off to a terrific start," said Red Sox chairman Tom Werner. "He's a great tonic for this team. He's experienced. He knows the organization, he knows the players in this organization." He then added when asked about the interim identification "Hopefully that tag will be removed shortly."

- J.D. Martinez is not happy about the prospects of eliminating in-game video, as has been suggested by Commissioner Rob Manfred.

"One hundred percent. That’s who I am," the Red Sox sluggers said when asked if he was worried that MLB was going to take such an action. "I heard that too and he said there’s going to be some restrictions, but I think to go out there and take all video out, you’re not allowed to look through at-bats, I think is a little ridiculous in my opinion. All these kids now, when I was in minor league, Double-A, Triple-A, we had video. It was something you grew up with. You kind of always go back and you can check something in your swing and it helps you throughout the game. To all of a sudden take that away is a little extreme I think. I think you can make it in a sense, if you want to delay it an inning or do something. I promise you now that the at-bats doesn’t help anything in a sign-stealing type of deal."

He added, "The way the at-bat system works, you’re kind of watching the game live, like from NESN. You watch it on NESN, can you steal the signs? Exactly, it’s too hard. It’s cutting in and out. There’s a guy eating a sausage and they’re talking about him eating his hot dog and the sausage and everything and then all of a sudden the pitch. I think it’s a little bit extreme to kind of just say all that, I think they should maybe become more informed on what is exactly you could do and actually talk to players who have played and hey, does this help, does this and that help. If you want to delay it, delay it. Whatever you have to do. But to sit there and take that away, for me it’s what makes me, me. I’m a very analytical guy, I like to study my swing, I like to study what my back foot is doing, what my elbow, whatever it might be and there’s a lot of guys nowadays that are like that. That’s the trend of the game, that’s the way the game has gone. If you look the last couple of years, everybody is like that."

- Rafael Devers, who has been in the Dominican Republic after the recent birth of his second child, is slated to be ready for the Thursday workout while minor-league free agent Cesar Puello (Visa issues) is slated to join the team Wednesday.