Red Sox

20 Under 25 Rankings: #4 - Andrew Benintendi

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20 Under 25 Rankings: #4 - Andrew Benintendi

TURNS 25: JULY 6, 2019
FINAL RATING: 7.8

He’s only played in 34 games with the big-league club, but Andrew Benintendi’s talent impressed everyone in 2016.

Power isn’t a major part of his game at the moment, but it wasn’t for Mookie Betts at age 22, either. In every other regard Boston’s new left fielder showed a consistent bat throughout his first campaign, hitting .295 with a .359 on-base percentage. He flashed some serious leather, too, robbing the Rays' Scott Souza Jr.of a home run as he nearly flipped over the left-field wall at Tropicana Field.

Benintendi also handled some adversity, coming back from a sprained left knee. He dealt with it quickly and picked up where he left off. 

And the mistakes the rookie made in 2016 -- losing a ball in the lights against the Yankees and letting Indians’ catcher Roberto Perez tag from first on a casual fly ball during the ALDS -- were more growing pains than anything else.

Benintendi still has to show he can maintain this play over a full season, but all signs show he’s up for the task.

The Baseball Show Podcast: How should Red Sox be using Craig Kimbrel?

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

The Baseball Show Podcast: How should Red Sox be using Craig Kimbrel?

Here is The Baseball Show Podcast, brought to you by Twin River Casino.

1:11 - Evan Drellich and Lou Merloni break down the Red Sox most recent loss to the Oakland Athletics and debate how Alex Cora should be using Craig Kimbrel.

7:28 - With Mookie Betts off to a roaring start to the season, Lou and Evan are left wondering if he has reverted to his 2016 form or if he'll fall off as the season progresses.

12:13 - With the weather wreaking havoc on teams' schedules in April, Lou and Evan look at some potential adjustments the league could make to the schedule: less games, more double headers and even longer playoffs.

6 ways Celtics benefit from Marcus Smart's potential return for Game 6

6 ways Celtics benefit from Marcus Smart's potential return for Game 6

MILWAUKEE – With a possible Game 6 return for Marcus Smart, there’s no question that would be a good thing for the Boston Celtics. 

Well, here are six ways having Smart back in the lineup can help aid Boston which is currently tied at two games apiece with the Bucks. 

Defensive versatility: At 6-foot-4 with a strong build, Marcus Smart gives Boston another body to throw at Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, the two players who have given the Celtics the biggest problems thus far in this series.

Additional ball-handler: The Milwaukee Bucks have tried to mix up their pressure defensively with an occasional full-court press of the Celtics. Smart is a combo guard who has shown tremendous growth this season as a floor leader with the ability to impact the game both as a scorer and facilitator.

Leadership: As the most tenured member of the roster, Marcus Smart has a high love of respect from his teammates. Not only because of his seniority with the franchise, but also because of the way he plays the game and his teammate’s understanding of how much he means to Boston when it comes to winning.

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Increased roster depth: Injuries devastated the Celtics’ roster heading into the playoffs. So a return of Smart would give Boston 12 healthy bodies. It may not seem like that big a deal. But as we’ve seen with this series, every available body matters when it comes to finding a pathway toward the second round of the playoffs for these teams.

Less pressure on Rozier: The first two games of this series really put a positive spotlight on Terry Rozier. The last two games, both losses for Boston, have featured Rozier struggling at both ends of the floor. Having Smart back would lighten Rozier’s plate some and in doing so, could better position him to be closer to the game-changing, difference-maker we saw in Games 1 and 2.

Playbook expansion: Having Marcus Smart back in the lineup gives head coach Brad Stevens a lot more options at both ends of the floor, which could be just what the Celtics need to limit Milwaukee’s 1-2 punch of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, as well as the Bucks bench which has been the better unit of two, in Games 3 and 4.

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