Christian Arroyo approached Red Sox about playing left field, Alex Cora says

Over the course of his professional career, Red Sox infielder Christian Arroyo has only known three defensive positions: second base, third base, and shortstop.

Since making his major-league debut with the Giants in 2017, the 25-year-old has played decent enough defense at all three positions, especially at second.

Last year alone, Arroyo was worth positive-2 defensive runs saved and posted an ultimate zone rating (UZR) of 0.9 over 108 2/3 innings while patrolling second base for the Sox. That ultimate zone rating of 0.9 translates to 5.7 over 150 defensive games.

Despite being a surehanded second baseman, and infielder for that matter, the Florida native has surely seen what Boston has done over the course of the offseason in adding a number of versatile position players — like Marwin Gonzalez and Enrique Hernandez — and decided that he needs to add another dimension to his game as well.

That being the case because according to Red Sox manager Alex Cora, Arroyo approached the team at some point this spring to talk about playing some left field.

“We’re very comfortable with what he can do,” Cora said of Arroyo earlier Friday morning. “He can play second, he can play short, he can play third. The other day he went to [first base coach and outfield instructor Tom Goodwin] and he wanted to start working in left field, which is great.

“It’s something that he thought about,” added the Sox skipper. “I guess he looks around and sees Marwin and sees Enrique, and he’s like, ‘You know what? Maybe learning the outfield position can help me throughout my career.'”

On the other side of the ball, Cora, who has known Arroyo since he unsuccessfully recruited him to play for Team Puerto Rico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, has been thoroughly impressed with what he’s seen from the former first-round pick at the plate thus far in Grapefruit League play.

Following Friday’s 11-7 victory over the Rays in which he went 0-for-2 in a pinch-hitting capacity, the right-handed hitter is now slashing .273/.314/.485 with a pair of home runs and four RBI over 35 plate appearances this spring.

“He’s a good at-bat,” Cora said. “So let’s see where it takes us. But so far, what I saw on TV, what I’ve seen in video, this is a much better version of Christian. He’s in better shape, he can move better now, and he can do some things that I thought he wasn’t able to do the last few years.”

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom echoed this same sort of sentiment regarding Arroyo, who used to play for the Rays, when speaking with WEEI’s Will Flemming and Rob Bradford earlier this week.

“He looks, to me, better than at any point that we had him when I was with the Rays,” Bloom said of the young infielder on Wednesday. “Body-wise, he came in looking good. And I’ve seen him — whether it was last year or this spring — drive pitches that I didn’t see him drive in the past and just hit them harder.”

Because he is out of minor-league options, Arroyo will have to make the Sox’ Opening Day roster or he will otherwise have to be exposed to waivers if the club wants to send him to Triple-A.

With that in mind, Arroyo and fellow right-handed hitting infielder Michael Chavis are projected to occupy the final two spots on Boston’s bench to kick off the 2021 campaign.

The pair of 25-year-olds have been enjoyable to watch on the field and in the clubhouse at the Fenway South complex, per Cora.

“We’re very pleased with the way [Christian’s] swinging the bat. We’re very pleased with the way Michael is swinging the bat,” Cora said. “Being able to catch up with some pitches in the zone — being disciplined enough. So it’s fun to see them playing this way. It’s fun to see them in the clubhouse, in the drills, helping each other out, and that’s what it’s all about.”

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ J.D. Martinez could see more playing time in left field in 2021

While the Red Sox are going to get creative with their outfield alignments this season depending on who they are playing and where they are playing, one name that cannot be forgotten about is J.D. Martinez.

The 33-year-old slugger has primarily served as Boston’s designated hitter since signing with the club in February 2018 — and for the most part has excelled in that role — but don’t be surprised if he plays more outfield this year.

Through his first seven appearances of the spring, Martinez has made five starts at DH and two in left field.

In his first three seasons with the Red Sox, the three-time All-Star’s number of appearances in the outfield have decreased from 57 in 2018 to 38 in 2019 to just six in a pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

While Martinez’s career numbers would suggest that he is more productive at the plate while DH-ing (lifetime 125 wRC+) as opposed to playing left field (lifetime 119 wRC+), Red Sox manager Alex Cora suggested that being in the outfield comes with its benefits.

“It’s good for him in spring training to move around,” Cora said when speaking with reporters Friday morning. “Actually, it keeps him out of the cage while he’s DH-ing, which is good. It’s kind of managing his workload. And I don’t think J.D.’s a bad outfielder. He’s just a big guy. He doesn’t move as well as other guys.”

Since joining the Sox in 2018, Martinez has logged a total of 875 2/3 innings between left and center field. In that time, he’s been credited with negative-13 defensive runs saved while posting an ultimate zone rating of negative-10.

Put another way, the defensive metrics have not been kind to the Florida native as of late, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t enjoy playing the outfield when he can.

“You saw the first game [of the spring], right away he threw to the right base, almost out at second. Threw to the plate, almost out,” said Cora. “So it’s good for him to move around and he likes it. I think as far as preparation, he doesn’t get stuck on the DH thing. When he knows I’m going to use him in the outfield, he goes out there, he shags, he moves around, he’s throwing, which is good for him. I do believe it puts him in a better spot.”

Martinez himself echoed this same sort of sentiment last month, attributing the fact that he saw more playing time in the outfield to the success his team enjoyed in 2018.

“I told [Cora]. I said, ‘Hey, the last time I played in the outfield — like 80 games — we won a World Series. I don’t know,” he recalled while shrugging his shoulders when speaking with NESN’s Tom Caron and Jim Rice on February 24.

2018 was also a year in which Martinez enjoyed a great deal of individual success, as he became the first player ever to win two Silver Slugger Awards in the same season for his offensive efforts as both an outfielder and designated hitter.

“Like I always remind him, I was the one that gave him two Silver Sluggers,” Cora said of Martinez Friday with a smile on his face. “I was responsible for that.”

Cora was then asked if he received any sort of compensation from Martinez, who netted $200,000 in bonuses for winning the two Silver Slugger Awards three years ago.

“What’s the next question?” the Sox skipper asked before chuckling for a moment. “I’ll call [super agent] Scott [Boras] on that one. I got to check with Scott.”

Cora — like Martinez now — was represented by Boras over the course of his 14-year major-league career.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox add top outfield prospect Gilberto Jimenez to major-league spring training roster

The Red Sox have added outfield prospect Gilberto Jimenez to their major-league spring training roster as a non-roster invitee, the team announced Friday.

Jimenez, 20, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 7 prospect in the Red Sox farm system, ranking second among outfielders behind only Jarren Duran (No. 5).

Boston originally signed the young outfielder out of the Dominican Republic for just $10,000 back in August 2017.

Since then Jimenez has hit wherever he’s gone, most recently posting an impressive .359/.393/.470 slash line to go along with three home runs, 19 RBI, and 14 stolen bases over 59 games for Low-A Lowell in 2019.

With there being no minor-league season in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the switch-hitter was not included in the Sox’ 60-man player pool at any point last year, but he did participate in the organization’s fall instructional league in Fort Myers.

There, according to SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall, Jimenez was identified by scouts as “the top prospect” at instructs.

“The biggest development for Jimenez at Instructs was his newfound ability to drive the ball, especially from the right side of the plate,” Cundall wrote back in December. “Jimenez has tweaked his stance and filled out considerably, allowing him to impact the ball. He showed plus raw power from the right side and a vastly improved swing from the left, in which he no longer is just looking to slap the ball. While his right-handed swing likely will always be better than his left-handed swing, the improvements he made should help ensure he is not a liability from his weaker side against more advanced pitching. Defensively, Jimenez showed a solid all-around skill set with plus range and an above-average arm. He still will make the odd mistake out there, but given his speed and decent instincts, he has a chance to develop into a very solid defender.”

On the 20-80 scouting scale, Jimenez’s speed — or run tool — is graded at a 70, making him one of, if not the quickest prospect in the organization.

While maintaining his elite athleticism, Jimenez has also bulked up recently as he is now listed at 5-foot-11 and 212 lbs., which, as noted by Cundall, “is up significantly from where he was with Lowell.”

Now one of 34 non-roster invitees currently at big-league camp in Fort Myers, Jimenez is projected to begin the 2021 season with High-A Greenville, whose season does not start until sometime in May at the earliest.

For the time being, though, it should be fascinating to see what Jimenez, who turns 21 in July, can do once he gets into some Grapefruit League games this spring. One would assume he will have the opportunity to leave an impression on Red Sox manager Alex Cora and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom if he performs up to his standards.

(Picture of Gilberto Jimenez: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Jarren Duran homers once again for Red Sox as outfielder’s impressive spring rolls on

On the same day former Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. reportedly found a new home with the Milwaukee Brewers, his potential heir apparent had another strong showing in spring training action on Thursday afternoon.

Outfield prospect Jarren Duran — making his third start and fifth overall appearance of the spring — went 2-for-3 at the plate with one double, one home run, one RBI, and two runs scored against the Orioles in Sarasota.

The home run, which came off Orioles right-hander Dean Kremer, was one that was aided by the wind, but it also showed how strong Duran is.

“I don’t know if that ball is gone from April on,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said with a masked smile while referring to the fact that Major League Baseball will implement deadened baseballs beginning on Opening Day. “Those are the ones that the balls are going to take away, but right now it counts.”

Boston may have gone on to drop Thursday’s contest to Baltimore by a final score of 6-3 in six innings, but Duran’s impressive offensive run to kick off the Grapefruit League campaign continued nonetheless.

Through his first five games of the spring, the 24-year-old is hitting .500 (5-for-10) to go along with two doubles, two homers, three RBI, and three runs scored in 11 trips to the plate thus far.

Having said that, it appears that Duran still has room to grow defensively in center field, as evidenced by a few of the decisions he made during the bottom half of the third inning on Thursday.

“There’s a man at first, a base hit to his right, he throws to third base, [the runner] gets to third, they advance,” Cora said. “Those are the things that are part of the equation. It’s good that he makes mistakes like that, so we can correct [them].”

Duran, 24, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in the Red Sox farm system.

Boston originally selected the California native in the seventh round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Long Beach State, where he primarily played second base.

Upon reporting to short-season Lowell shortly after signing with the club in 2018, Duran was moved to the outfield as Red Sox area scout Justin Horowitz believed he “had more potential based on his bat life and strength and that he could unlock greater defensive impact” in the outfield as opposed to the infield.

Since then, the left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing Duran — listed at 6-foot-2 and 200 lbs. — has emerged as the top outfield prospect in Boston’s farm system and one of, if not the fastest minor-leaguer the organization has to offer.

Combine his freakish strength, athleticism, and quickness with his desire to get better, and it becomes clear that the speedy outfielder should be making his major-league debut sooner rather than later.

“We’ve been saying all along, he’s a good athlete, he’s working on his craft swing-wise, and he keeps improving,” said Cora.

(Picture of Jarren Duran: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Red Sox free agency: Jackie Bradley Jr. in agreement with Brewers on two-year deal, per report

In case you missed it, now-former Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is reportedly in agreement with the Milwaukee Brewers on a two-year, $24 million contract, according to The Boston Globe’s Julain McWilliams.

Per McWilliams, Bradley Jr.’s deal with Milwaukee includes a player option after the first year.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal adds that Bradley Jr. will net $13 million in 2021 with the chance to earn an additional $11 million in 2022 if he decides to not opt out. Some of the money will also be deferred.

Bradley Jr., who turns 31 next month, was the top position player free-agent on the market leading up to Thursday morning’s news.

The former first-round pick spent the first eight seasons — and first 10 years of his professional career — with the Red Sox, most recently posting a .283/.364/.450 slash line to go along with seven home runs and 22 RBI over 55 games in 2020.

Despite putting up those impressive offensive numbers in addition to his usual superb defense in center field, it took a little while for Bradley Jr. to find a job this winter.

One reason behind that likely had to do with the fact that the Scott Boras client was reportedly seeking a “significant contract, perhaps beyond four years” as recently as February 3, according to The New York Post’s Mike Puma.

With the number of potential suitors dwindling down, the Brewers jumped in on the Bradley Jr. sweepstakes in late February and ultimately wound up acquiring his services with just weeks to go until Opening Day.

Last season, the Brewers outfielder ranked 25th in baseball in terms of Defensive Runs Saved (-11) and 17th in Ultimate Zone Rating (0.1), which translates to an Ultimate Zone Rating of -0.1 over 150 games.

Bradley Jr., who figures to slide into center while Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich patrol the corners, should help improve Milwaukee’s overall defensive numbers in 2021.

Now that his time with the Red Sox is likely over, here is a brief list of what the Virginia native accomplished in his time in Boston:

  • Two-time World Series champion (2013, 2018)
  • One-time American League Championship Series MVP (2018)
  • One-time All-Star (2016)
  • One-time Gold Glove Award winner (2018)

Assuming he does not return to the Sox anytime soon, Bradley Jr. will likely go down as one of, if not the best defensive centerfielder in franchise history. He will be missed and we wish him all the best with the Brewers.

(Picture of Jackie Bradley Jr.: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Jarren Duran, top Red Sox outfield prospect, homers in second start of spring: ‘He lifts, he sleeps, he eats, and he plays baseball’

Outfield prospect Jarren Duran started his second game of the spring in center field for the Red Sox on Tuesday.

The 24-year-old, hitting out of the two-hole, went 1-for-3 with a solo home run and a walk before being lifted at the start of the seventh inning.

That homer, which came on a 1-0 breaking ball from Rays right-hander David Hess, was belted deep to right field — well over the Boston bullpen, for Duran’s first big fly of the spring.

Even without a minor-league season last year, Duran still got plenty of time to develop between spending time at the Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket and playing winter ball in Puerto Rico.

Over 16 regular season games for Criollos de Caguas, a team managed by Red Sox quality control coach Ramon Vazquez, the California native slashed a modest .236/.386/.273 to go along with two doubles, six stolen bases, and 10 RBI.

Duran did turn things around in the Puerto Rican postseason by posting a 1.046 OPS en route to being named the Most Valuable Player of the league’s championship series.

The fact that Caguas won its respective league allowed the club to represent Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Series, which led to Duran becoming a Caribbean League All-Star after going 10-for-25 (.400) at the plate with one double, one triple, one home run, and three RBI over seven games played.

While continuing to develop at the alternate site and in winter ball these past few months, it’s clear that Duran has grown stronger, as evidenced by his uptick in power as well as physique.

“He’s strong,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Tuesday. “That’s the Puerto Rican diet: rice and beans and chicken the whole offseason. And two brunches with the manager. I took care of that.

“Like I said earlier, he lifts, he sleeps, he eats, and he plays baseball,” continued Cora. “That’s what he does. And he enjoys it.”

It wasn’t too long ago when it seemed like Duran — who Boston took in the seventh round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Long Beach State — was going to be someone who relied on his speed more than anything. He did after all steal 46 bases between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland in 2019.

Taking his speed into account, Cora told Duran that as a left-handed hitter, he should consider dropping down a couple of bunts because of where the Rays were positioning their third baseman.

“It’s funny, because we were talking about certain situations,” the Sox skipper said. “With the third baseman back early in the count, with his speed, it would be good for him to drop a few bunts down just to get on base. And then he hits a home run.”

Cora’s first exposure to Duran as Red Sox manager came during spring training in 2019. The speedy outfielder appeared in seven games back then, but it’s safe to say he has grown a lot in the last two years.

“He’s a lot stronger than what he was two years ago,” stated Cora. “He’s in-tune with the game, and he’s going to keep developing and he’s going to be a good one.”

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds, Duran has one of the best speed tools among Red Sox minor-leaguers, according to FanGraphs.

The second baseman-turned-outfielder is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

If all goes according to plan, Duran — who last played at Double-A Portland in 2019 — could make his major-league debut at some point this summer, if not sooner.

For now, he will have the chance to continue to dazzle the masses in Grapefruit League play in southwest Florida.

(Picture of Jarren Duran: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo discusses challenges of playing center field at Fenway Park

As Opening Day draws ever closer, it looks more and more like Alex Verdugo will be the Red Sox’ everyday centerfielder to start off the 2021 season.

Jackie Bradley Jr. remains on the open market, and while a reunion between the Gold Glove outfielder and the Sox cannot be ruled out at this point, it appears that the club is confident that Verdugo is more than capable of taking over in center.

During a televised workout at JetBlue Park on Wednesday night, the 24-year-old spoke with NESN’s Tom Caron and Hall of Fame outfielder Jim Rice. Among other things, the two sides discussed the challenges involved in playing center field at Fenway Park.

“The challenge is you got a lot of space,” Verdugo said. “Right-center is 420′, and we got some weird dimensions in the walls. Like where the bullpen is, it kind of cuts in a little bit.”

Since making his major-league debut with the Dodgers in 2017, Verdugo has logged 556 1/3 innings in center field, only eight of which came with the Red Sox last season during a game against the Marlins in Miami in September.

When he wasn’t playing center that one time in 2020, the former second-round draft pick saw the majority of his playing time come in right field (246 2/3 innings) with 167 1/3 innings in left mixed in there as well. And while he’s never played a professional inning in center at Fenway, Verdugo seems ready for the challenge ahead.

“For me, it’s the same as going into road parks, all that,” he said. “You just got to get out there and get to the warning track, feel it out, and take a couple of balls. You just get used to it that way. For me, it’s, ‘Be the person I am, play the game that I play, and get the jumps that I know I can.’ And then I’ll be able to cover the ground out here and hopefully — these gap-to-gap balls — cut them off and hopefully get some people off trying to extend the base or something.”

In response, Rice, who spent the entirety of his 16-year Hall of Fame career with the Sox and appeared in over 1,000 games at Fenway Park while doing so, offered Verdugo some advice.

“You can helm the gap-to-gap, but I think the key thing here is to worry about the wall more than anything else,” Rice said in regards to the Green Monster in left field. “If you look at your left fielder, anything to your left fielder’s left is going to come back to him. Anything over his head to his left is going to go towards right field. So those are the only angles that you really got to worry about out there.”

“Definitely. Obviously you know, you played out here way longer than I have,” responded Verdugo. “It’s just, once you learn the angles and know how they bounce off in certain spots, it’s not too tough.”

Looking back at his final season with Los Angeles in 2019, the left-handed throwing Verdugo played 61 games and accrued 475 2/3 innings in center field that year.

Over the course of those 61 contests in center, the Arizona native was worth positive-3 defensive runs saved while posting an ultimate zone rating (UZR) of 1.1, which translates to an UZR of 3.6 over 150 defensive games, per FanGraphs.

According to Baseball Savant, Verdugo ranked 33rd among qualified major-league center fielders in 2019 in regards to outs above average (0). In other words, by that particular metric, he was average at that position two years ago.

Late last week, Red Sox manager Alex Cora stressed how important it would be for his team to improve defensively this coming season.

Verdugo, seemingly taking over for one of, if not the best defensive center fielder in team history, will likely play a key role in how much Boston’s defensive efforts improve in 2021.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox have an ‘extremely exciting’ prospect in Dominican outfielder Miguel Bleis, Eddie Romero says

Last month, the Red Sox made some headlines by giving Dominican outfield prospect Miguel Bleis a signing bonus of $1.8 million, making him the highest-paid player in their 2021 international signing class thus far.

Bleis, who turns 17 in early March, was regarded by Baseball America as the 20th-ranked international prospect headed into the international signing period, which began on January 15.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, the right-handed hitting, right-handed throwing center fielder “is one of the top athletes in the 2020-21 international class.

“He has a sleek, athletic frame with high physical upside. He glides around center field with an easy gait and long strides, with average speed that might tick up as he gets stronger along with a strong arm. He has a quick bat with gap power and a chance to turn more of his doubles into home runs once he gets stronger.”

Currently listed at 6-foot-2 and and 170 lbs., Bleis had been training in the Mejia Top 10 Program in his home country, but he is currently at the Red Sox’ Dominican Academy in El Toro, a town just outside of Santo Domingo.

On Monday’s installment of the SoxProspects.com podcast with Chris Hatfield and Ian Cundall, Red Sox executive vice president and assistant general manager Eddie Romero spoke at length about what Bleis brings to the table.

“He’s a premium center field talent,” Romero said of one of Boston’s newest prospects. “He’s got all five tools. He runs well. He’s got an absolute hose of an arm at an early age with really good mechanics and accuracy. So we think that he can stay in the middle of the field.

“He’s got surprising power,” Romero added. “Being so young and being able to have above-average raw power is something we don’t see often for a center field player given his body type and athleticism. So, really, what we need to hone in on with him is approach. He performed well offensively in competition for us, and he’s continued to do that in the academy.”

Bleis hails from San Pedro de Marocis, a city on the Dominican’s southeastern coast that has produced the likes of Sammy Sosa, Robinson Cano, Alfonso Soriano, Fernando Tatis, and Fernando Tatis Jr., among others.

“He’s a high-character kid that is all about baseball and he’s from San Pedro,” said Romero in regards to Bleis’ roots. “They put something in the water there to create baseball players. So we hope that he can continue the lineage of talent coming out of that area. He’s extremely exciting.”

Since he is still just 16 years old, Bleis is still obviously a long ways away from cracking a major-league roster as there is plenty of room for him to develop in a variety of areas over the next several years.

The young outfielder will likely begin the 2021 minor-league season with one of the Red Sox’ rookie-level, Dominican Summer League teams. That is, if there is a DSL season this year in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re actively discussing that with MLB right now,” Romero said when asked if there would be a DSL season in 2021. “Everybody hopes that there is. It’s just pandemic-affected. We’re still working on the best way to organize that: What the structure would be, how the testing would go. And so we really want to have another platform for these guys to develop after so many of them missed the entire season last year.”

One last note on Bleis for those who enjoy prospect lists: FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen has him ranked as Boston’s No. 32 prospect going into the 2021 campaign.

Using the 20-80 scouting scale, Longenhagen grades Bleis’ current tools as follows: 20 Speed, 45 Raw Power, 20 Game Power, 50 Run, 40 Fielding, 55 Throw.

“Bleis is a righty corner outfield power projection prospect with a whippy, low-ball swing and room for about 30 pounds on his frame,” Longenhagen wrote of the speedy outfielder.

(Picture of Eddie Romero: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi ready to ‘get going’ with Royals, begin next chapter of career

Former Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi did not find out he was going to be traded to the Royals until relatively late Tuesday night, but he at least got some heads up about it.

The 26-year-old had been mired in trade rumors for much of the offseason, yet he was able to shut out most of that noise. Tuesday night, however, was a different story.

“I got a call last night from Chaim Bloom, and he said, ‘There’s a good chance you’re going to get traded tonight, so I’ll let you know,’” Benintendi recounted when speaking with the Kansas City media via Zoom earlier Wednesday. “I didn’t know the team, and then I find out it’s the Royals and I’m extremely excited — I’m from the Midwest — going to a Midwest team. So, I’m excited. I’m ready to get there, ready to meet people, build those relationships, and get going.”

Boston officially dealt Benintendi, as well as $2.8 million of his $6.6 million salary for 2021, to Kansas City in exchange for outfielder Franchy Cordero and two players to be named later as well as right-handed pitching prospect Josh Wincowski and one player to be named later from the New York Mets.

For Benintendi, the trade comes at an interesting point in his career.

The former 2015 first-round draft pick of the Red Sox has seen his once promising potential dip as of late. Most recently, he managed to collect just four hits in 14 games last year before suffering a season-ending rib injury in August.

“Last year, obviously, it’s unfortunate,” Benintendi said in regards to the pandemic shortened 2020 season. “It was the first time we had ever experienced something like that. I played 13 or 14 games and I broke my ribs, which is unfortunate. Obviously, it’s tough to swing with some broken ribs. But, I’m feeling good now and ready to get going.”

Expanding upon that, Benintendi’s injury, which occurred while he was rounding second base during an August 11 game against the Rays, was originally announced by the Red Sox as a right rib cage strain.

“I tripped around my own feet going around second base,” he said. “It was a rib strain, but there were a couple fractures. But, I’m feeling great now. Feel back to 100%.”

In being moved to a market like Kansas City, there is a level of comfort involved here for Benintendi, and it’s not just because of the city’s proximity to Nashville and his home state of Ohio or its quality barbecue.

For one, the former Arkansas Razorback is already quite familiar with Royals manager Mike Matheny. That being the case because Matheny’s son, Tate, was also drafted by the Red Sox in 2015, so the two played their rookie ball together with the Lowell Spinners.

“I’m extremely excited to be playing for him,” Benintendi said of the ex-Cardinals skipper. “I’ve known Tate since I was drafted. In 2015, we were in Lowell together in rookie ball for the Red Sox. And I also lived in St. Louis for a number of offseasons, so I got to know them pretty well. I’m excited going into this that I have somewhat of a relationship with Mike and having some familiarity. So, I’m excited to play for him.”

Adding on to that, Kauffman Stadium is a ballpark Benintendi has enjoyed success at in his time with the Red Sox. For his career, the left-handed hitter owns a lifetime .485/.564/.848 slash line to go go along with four doubles, one triple, two home runs, and three RBI at ‘The K.’

“Obviously it’s a lot different than Fenway,” Benintendi said of the Royals’ ballpark. “Left field, you have a lot more room to run out there, which I’m excited about. I always love playing there and something about it, I feel like I see the ball well. So, it’s exciting. It’s a big field. I feel like I’m a gap-to-gap kind of hitter and obviously those gaps there are pretty big, so we’ll see if we can run a little bit.”

While getting the chance to “run a little bit” for a new team, Benintendi is also hoping to show that the Royals made a smart decision in trading for him and the Red Sox made an unwise decision in letting him go.

“It’s nice to be wanted,” the 5-foot-9, 180 lb. outfielder said. “I feel like there’s a sense of pride for me. I want to go perform well, obviously, and show them it was worth the trade. I want to go play well for the fans and the organization. I’m excited and it’s nice to be wanted.”

Even while saying that, Benintendi will still cherish what he did with the Red Sox, highlighted by winning the World Series in 2018, for the rest of his career.

“They drafted me, and I’ll always have that connection with Boston,” he eloquently stated. “2018 is a tough one not to mention. That year was unbelievable. Most of all, it’s the relationships I’ve had with teammates, coaches, things like that. You get to meet a lot of people in this game and some of the relationships I had there, I’ll have forever. It’s something I’ll take with me.”

Taking those experiences with the Red Sox and what he learned from them to Kansas City, Benintendi is certainly open to the idea of becoming a player his new teammates can lean on for information if the occasion arises.

“If guys have questions or anything like that, I’m an open book about it,” he said. “If they want to bounce questions or anything like that off me, I’d be more than happy to share those experiences and whatever it takes.”

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox trade Andrew Benintendi to Royals, per report

The Red Sox have traded outfielder Andrew Benintendi to the Royals as part of a three-team deal that also involves the Mets, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman and FanSided’s Robert Murray.

Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the Red Sox would also receive outfielder Franchy Cordero from the Royals once the trade is finalized, while Heyman adds that right-handed pitching prospect Josh Winckowski would be going from New York to Boston.

Cordero and Winckowski are two players coming back to the Sox in this three-team swap, but The Athletic’s Chad Jennings reports that Boston could be getting as many as five players in return from the Royals and Mets.

Writing something new once this trade is made official, so stay tuned for that.

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)