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Red Sox expect Benintendi to return tonight

@IanMBrowne
April 19, 2019

NEW YORK -- In what looms as an important weekend series against the American League East-leading Rays, the Red Sox hope that the return of left fielder Andrew Benintendi can give the lineup a boost, starting with Friday night’s game at Tropicana Field. Benintendi fouled a ball hard off his

NEW YORK -- In what looms as an important weekend series against the American League East-leading Rays, the Red Sox hope that the return of left fielder Andrew Benintendi can give the lineup a boost, starting with Friday night’s game at Tropicana Field.

Benintendi fouled a ball hard off his right foot on Sunday against the Orioles, sustaining a contusion.

Wednesday marked the third straight game the left-handed hitter was out of the lineup.

The timing of the injury couldn’t have been worse, because Benintendi was in the midst of a nice hot streak, slashing .394/.459/.606 over his last 38 plate appearances.

The Red Sox struggled in their first two games Benintendi missed, generating a total of one run in losses to the Orioles and Yankees.

“If everything goes well, he should be back on Friday,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “We still can use him today [off the bench], but two more days [including Thursday’s off-day] would be good.”

Betts staying up top
With Benintendi out of the lineup, the struggling Mookie Betts has been hitting leadoff. When Benintendi returns, Betts will again bat second. Cora has no plans to move his best player down in the order during a slump.

“Hit him eighth? No, I’m not hitting him eighth,” quipped Cora. “He’s just searching right now. We’ll keep staying with what we think is going to help and is going to make us a good offensive club, but I don’t think it’s the order -- leading off, hitting second, hitting third. I don’t think it matters. I think it’s just him trying to find his swing and I do feel like he’s getting closer.”

Cora thinks Sale is ‘that close’
Now that Chris Sale has regained the velocity on his fastball and the depth of his slider, Cora thinks his ace is at last ready for takeoff.

It has been a difficult start to the season for the lefty, who is 0-4 with an 8.50 ERA.

Sale will get his next chance on Monday night at Fenway Park against the Tigers. After Tuesday’s loss to the Yankees, Sale went off on himself, saying that he is embarrassing his family, the team and the city of Boston.

“I read the quotes. I laughed,” said Cora. “Because I talked to him after the game yesterday and I do feel he's that close. I think we went from getting the velocity back, getting the slider back. Now yesterday, [he] missed location. If you take a look at the game, there were some fastballs that were mislocated. So now that I think all the ingredients are there, maybe the next one is the one that we take off. And I do feel that he's that close.

“One thing about my players, our players, the organization, I like them to be genuine, transparent and responsible. And if he feels he stinks, hey, he's honest."

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