Andrew Benintendi didn't play in three of the Red Sox previous four games coming into the Toronto series and now in an 0-for-12 slide, he found himself benched again Thursday night against the Blue Jays.
Alex Cora said it was more than just another day off.
“We need him to feel hitter-ish again,” the Red Sox manager told reporters in Toronto. “I think his swing is not where he wants to be. I don’t want to say he’s frustrated, but kind of like one of those where I feel like unplug him today, show up early, work with [hitting coach] Timmy [Hyers] and hopefully, he can see the results right away.”
Benintendi is hitting .266 with seven homers and 36 RBI. His numbers are down overall from a year ago (.290, 16 homers, 87 RBI) and since the All-Star break last season, he's hit only two homers. He's struck out 81 times this season after striking out 106 times all of last season.
After starting the season as the leadoff hitter, he was moved to second in the order and has now been supplanted in that spot by red-hot Rafael Devers. When he has played the past few games, he's hit fifth. Cora said he doesn't think last year's second-half slump is related to this season's issues.
“I don’t think so,” Cora said. “I think it’s more about this year. Even in spring training, he found his rhythm a little bit there, but he doesn’t feel as hitter-ish. His hands are not firing the way they usually do. If you look at videos of Andrew in college [at Arkansas, where he was a Golden Spikes Award winner in 2015 before being selected seventh overall by Boston in that June's draft] all the way to last year, it’s the same swing. Now, it’s a lot of swings and misses, a lot of chasing pitches up in the zone. Early in the season, it was breaking balls down and in.”
When he sat in three of four games (including Sunday in London) before playing Tuesday against the Blue Jays, Cora said Benintendi's legs were "feeling heavy", but this slump appears unrelated to any kind of injury. J.D. Martinez started in left field, Christian Vazquez was the DH and Sandy Leon started behind the plate Thursday night.
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