Not even J.D. Martinez can save Andrew Benintendi at the moment.
Martinez, the veteran Red Sox DH, is known as the clubhouse swing doctor. He loves breaking down mechanics and offering tips, and preaching the gospel of launch angle helped Mookie Betts become an MVP and Xander Bogaerts a force.
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Changes to both the gameday routine as well as the availability of in-game video have curtailed Martinez's influence, however, which means slumping hitters like Benintendi have one fewer resource when the going gets tough.
"I mean, honestly, years in the past, I probably already would've been able to get in the video room, break his swing down, look at it, do some comparisons," Martinez said after Benintendi struck out with the bases loaded to end Tuesday's 5-1 defeat in Tampa. "It's kind of what I do for most of the guys on the team. Anytime they're going through some stuff, I kind of dedicate some time after the game, before the game, or something, during the game, if I just hit or something like that, I can kind of throw them a bone. As you guys know, we don't have access to any of that stuff anymore. It's kind of everyone on their own. Survivor."
There's no question that Benintendi is mired in a hellacious slump. Tuesday's 0 for 5 dropped him to .069 (2 for 29). He has struck out 12 times and rarely puts the ball in play. After fouling off a pair of good Nick Anderson fastballs in the ninth, Benintendi took a curveball for strike three, starting his walk back to the dugout before he had even officially been rung up.
A year ago, Martinez might've offered real-time advice between innings, but players no longer have access to in-game video, a change necessitated by the Astros and Red Sox stealing signs. He also could've helped well before a game, but players may no longer arrive more than five hours early, and teammates must socially distance amidst the pandemic.
"Guys are struggling and trying to work," Martinez said. "It's tough when you don't know what to work on or what to do, so everyone is feeling for stuff and it's a tough situation. We're only allowed to be here five hours before game time. That doesn't leave a lot of time for guys to go in the cage and grind it out and figure it out with the hitting coach. It's a tough hand. We've got to find a way to make it work, though. I told my guys, anytime they have anything, they know they can come up to me and ask me questions. It's just different. I don't have that time to go in and break down guys' swings and look at guys' stuff and really dive into it."
One of the players struggling most acutely is Benintendi, whose days not only in the leadoff spot, but in the lineup, period, will be in jeopardy if he doesn't start producing.
"Hard to say if he's trying to do too much," manager Ron Roenicke said. "I think he's just trying to find his -- I don't want to say his swing, because his swing is actually pretty good. I think he's trying to find his recognition of where that zone is when he does a lot of damage. Then also making sure he lays off the pitches. Usually when he's not going good, he's chasing. He's chasing down, chasing up. If he can narrow those pitches and get them back into the zone where we know he can hit, I think that's more of it than where he is in the lineup."