Red Sox

Mookie Betts returns to leadoff and Andrew Benintendi will bat second as Alex Cora pulls plug on lineup shift

Mookie Betts returns to leadoff and Andrew Benintendi will bat second as Alex Cora pulls plug on lineup shift

NEW YORK -- Mookie Betts won an MVP batting leadoff last year, but the World Series trophy was practically still champagne-soaked when manager Alex Cora decided he'd make a change.

Cora believed that Betts' production demanded a spot one rung down in the order where he could drive in runs and still set the table for J.D. Martinez and Co., and besides, Andrew Benintendi represented a perfect replacement at leadoff.

Two months into the season, that experiment is over. Before Saturday's game against the Yankees, Cora announced that Betts will move back to leadoff and stay there for the rest of the season.

"I think we're going to roll with this now," he said. "There's certain things you take into consideration. We talk about at-bats with men on and all that. But there's other part of the equation that numbers don't show as far as what you can do or you cannot do with certain orders. This morning I got up and said, 'This is how we're going to roll.' I just talked to Mookie and I said, 'You're going to lead off the rest of the season.' That's where we're going to do."

The top of the order hasn't clicked like it did last year. Benintendi is hitting just .257 overall, and he's 3 for 37 (.081) leading off games. Betts, meanwhile, is a lifetime .303 hitter with a .904 OPS out of the leadoff spot, though he has hit only .108 there this year (vs. .324 with a .953 OPS batting second).

Cora was asked if Betts is more comfortable in the leadoff spot. After winning a batting title last year with a .346 average, Betts is hitting .287.

"He's OK," Cora said. "He really doesn't care. Just a matter of letting him know what we're going to do. I told him we did it last year, there's no switching. Just go ahead and lead off and dominate. It's a different era. Start looking around the league and George (Springer), what he's doing in Houston. I think the Braves did it too with (Ronald) Acuna, he's hitting fourth and all of a sudden he's leading off. I don't know. There's something about that spot that we like to put pressure on it and I think he's the right guy to do it. Benny can't benefit from other stuff and Mookie getting on."

Benintendi will return to the No. 2 spot as Cora pulls the plug on the plan he trumpeted all offseason. The hope is that the offense becomes more dynamic.

"We ask players to make adjustments and the way things are going, the way things we felt offensively -- it's not about at-bats with men on," he said. "We felt there are certain things we were able to do last year offensively, that combo that way, that this year it's not possible because we have that guy hitting second. I know people are getting caught up in Benny leading off and all that. He was 2-for-whatever. But even when he's getting on, they had that guy behind him and it's kind of like, should we run? How are we going to handle this? And we like to play fast, we like to run. Everybody knows it so it's not a secret. I do feel that this way it opens up a few things for us offensively to get going. Just relying on the home run or not putting pressure on the opposition and I think this way we can do it."

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Ian Kinsler 'doesn’t see any form of punishment' coming for Red Sox 'flawless' sign-stealing system

Ian Kinsler 'doesn’t see any form of punishment' coming for Red Sox 'flawless' sign-stealing system

The Boston Red Sox are still anxiously awaiting the results of an MLB investigation into sign-stealing in 2018, part of a scandal that has marred the team and all of baseball the past two months.

The allegations against the Red Sox led to the departure of manager Alex Cora. Meanwhile, the Houston Astros have been hit with some harsh penalties for a sign-stealing scandal of their own. They fired their manager, A.J. Hinch, after he was suspended for a year by MLB. Cora was a part of Hinch's staff in 2017 as bench coach when the scheme to use real-time video to steal opponents' signals began.

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MLB's delays in the Red Sox investigation have led some to speculate that the probe may not find much. And in a recent interview on 1310 The Ticket in Dallas, former Red Sox second baseman Ian Kinsler said that MLB wouldn't find "anything close to what's going on [in Houston]."

"I don’t know what [MLB] is going to find, but in my opinion, it’s not anything close to what’s going on [in Houston], Kinsler said, as transcribed by MassLive.com's Chris Cotillo. “The Red Sox were just a very tight-knit group. When I was injected into that team in the middle of the season, it was a lot like the Rangers clubs I was on, where it was just a very tight-knit group and their system was flawless. They just had a very good system of relaying from second base to home plate. That was it. Honestly. We’ll see what happens with the commissioner’s report.”

This is the most detailed that any Red Sox player has been about the allegations to date, and with good reason. Kinsler is retired, so he doesn't stand to lose anything by talking now.

While Kinsler's depiction of the Red Sox sign-stealing is far from damning, he did acknowledge that while watching his previous at-bat on tape, he would check out the signs to see if he could de-code them.

“If there’s a video and you’re going to check out your at-bat and while you’re checking out your at-bat, there’s a runner on second base also, and you look through your at-bat to see your personal flaws and what you’re trying to fix for the next time… I’m going to go back again and check out the signs and see if I can crack them,” Kinsler said. “If I can, I can. If I can’t, I can’t.”

That's somewhat of a gray area, as all MLB teams have access to video in-game. So, it will certainly be interesting to see what the MLB rules on this aspect of the allegations and what they may do to curb in-game video going forward.

Still, as Kinsler said, he doesn't think that the Red Sox are going to get anything more than "a small punishment," as the league won't find anything "substantial".

“I’m interested to see what happens with this whole report because I truly believe they’re not going to find anything that’s substantial,” he said. “They might throw a small punishment out there because they did a report. I don’t know. I don’t know where they stand on this whole thing. We saw where they stood on the Astros thing. I just really don’t see any form of punishment coming to the Red Sox. It was a very good team.”

Brock Holt: 'I never expected to wear any other uniform but a Red Sox uniform'

Brock Holt: 'I never expected to wear any other uniform but a Red Sox uniform'

Brock Holt has left the Boston Red Sox, but it certainly doesn't seem like he wanted to.

The super-utility player became a free agent and the Red Sox opted not to re-sign him as they looked to cut costs ahead of the 2020 season. So, Holt, who turns 32 in June, lingered for a while on the free-agent market after seven seasons with the Red Sox before ultimately agreeing to a deal with the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday.

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And in an interview after arriving at the Brewers camp in Arizona, Holt spoke about wanting to remain in Boston and never expecting to go anywhere else in his career.

"I was with Boston for so long and I honestly never expected to wear any other uniform but a Red Sox uniform," Holt said in a video captured by Scott Grodsky. "I loved it there. I loved playing at Fenway, I loved the fans, I loved the city. I was a huge part of the community so it was tough for me to come to the fact that I wasn't going back.

"But like I said, everything happens for a reason. I'm excited to be here."

Holt's former Red Sox teammate Travis Shaw, who played for the Brewers from 2017 to 2019 before signing this offseason with the Toronto Blue Jays, helped convince Holt to join the Brewers.

“[Holt] actually reached out to me about a week or two ago saying that the Brewers had some interest and that they were starting to talk,” Shaw told The Wisconsin Sports Zone radio station. “He was just asking about how the organization was and I gave him nothing but positive things.

“Brock is one of my favorite teammates that I’ve ever played with," Shaw said. "He keeps it loose in the clubhouse. Obviously he is a great player, he can play all over the diamond, but just his presence in the clubhouse and in the dugout, he keeps things loose and he keeps things fun.”

Holt was a fan favorite and a great force in the Red Sox locker room and community. He will certainly be missed by the team, and it is fair to wonder why Sox management decided not to at least try to match the one-year deal Holt got from Milwaukee. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Holt made $3.575 million with the Red Sox last season.

After all, they opened up some room under the luxury tax by trading Mookie Betts and David Price. So, why not use some of that to re-sign Holt?

Holt will now suit up for the Brewers and as he communicated to reporters, he is very much looking forward to playing at Fenway June 5-7 when the Brewers visit for an interleague series.

And he's sure to get a warm welcome when he returns.