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Cora takes long-term view with lineups

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- Andrew Benintendi smashed a double and a triple in Tuesday's 14-1 rout against the Yankees. He also had the go-ahead double in Sunday's epic 8-7 comeback win against the Rays.

So why was Benintendi not in the starting lineup for Wednesday's game against the Yankees?

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BOSTON -- Andrew Benintendi smashed a double and a triple in Tuesday's 14-1 rout against the Yankees. He also had the go-ahead double in Sunday's epic 8-7 comeback win against the Rays.

So why was Benintendi not in the starting lineup for Wednesday's game against the Yankees?

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It is all part of the long-term planning that Red Sox manager Alex Cora does when it comes to the lineup.

"That decision [on Benintendi] was made a few days ago," Cora said.

So don't be surprised when a player gets a day off after hitting a home run in the previous game, as was the case for Mookie Betts on April 3 at Miami.

"I mean, it's not only the hot part of it, it's the matchups, not only today but the upcoming matchups and trying to get other people hot, too," Cora said. "We map it out, man. It's not that we're trying to rest guys most of the time and people are worried so much about rhythm, but at the same time, there are certain guys in that dugout that they need to get their rhythm, too, and they're important pieces of what we're trying to accomplish."

Cora then expanded on his Wednesday decision with Benintendi, which resulted in J.D. Martinez playing left field, Mitch Moreland getting the start at first and Hanley Ramirez serving as the designated hitter.

"Today we accomplish a few things," said Cora. "Mitch is getting at-bats. It's still a tough matchup for lefties [against Masahiro Tanaka], let's be honest. But Mitch gets at-bats, Hanley is off his feet. J.D. is playing left field and Benny's off his feet and we can use him probably late in the game if necessary.

"So we accomplish a few things. People see what happened yesterday, yeah. [Benintendi] has been putting good at-bats in the whole season. His on-base percentage is .400, and that's what we ask of our second hitter. Maybe later on [recent games will play a bigger role], but now I'll map it out and go from there. We'll go with what we planned."

How far out does Cora plot the lineup?

"Sometimes four [days]," Cora said. "Sometimes a whole week."

Velazquez likely for Saturday

With Drew Pomeranz making one last rehab start on Friday for Double-A Portland, the Red Sox need a fifth starter on Saturday. Cora is currently leaning toward righty Hector Velazquez, who has pitched twice in the bullpen since his only start of the season on April 1.

Video: BOS@TB: Velazquez posts solid start in winning effort

"Hopefully everything goes accordingly to plan and we don't have to use him, but it looks like it's going to be Velazquez," said Cora.

The other option would be lefty Brian Johnson, who pitched in relief on Tuesday.

Swihart gets some practice at second

After the Red Sox re-signed Eduardo Nunez in Spring Training, Cora cooled on the need to get super-utilityman Blake Swihart game action at second base. But with shortstop Xander Bogaerts on the disabled list, Cora had Swihart do some pregame work at second -- a position he has never played -- the past couple of days.

"We need options," Cora said. "We've got to run for people and we may have to hit [for someone]. It's a different lineup now than a few days ago when Xander was there, so we have to be prepared if something happens. He worked at second late in Spring Training, turned double plays. He's athletic enough in case we need him he can go there and make routine plays and turn double plays."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Andrew Benintendi