Bulked-up Benintendi eyes big year for Sox
Young left fielder more at ease entering second full season
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Andrew Benintendi arrived at Spring Training on Monday with much less hair, but more of the rest of him.
After a strong rookie season for the Red Sox in 2017, Benintendi purposely bulked up in the offseason so he can better withstand the rigors of the baseball marathon.
"I think just over a course of a year, I tend to lose a little weight," said Benintendi. "So I think staying a little stronger this year and just trying to get through the season healthy, that extra weight will help."
A quick look at Benintendi's biceps makes it easy to envision he can top the 20 home runs he hit last season.
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Just two Spring Trainings ago, Benintendi's frame was so small that all the letters in his last name could barely fit across the back of his jersey.
The last two winters, he has focused on adding strength. Benintendi estimates that he's at about 190 pounds entering camp.
"I just ate a lot and worked out," said Benintendi, who is at camp a full week ahead of the first official workout for position players. "The last two offseasons. It's been good to put on some weight. I'm a little heavier now than I was last offseason. We'll see what happens."
Of course, speed is also a part of Benintendi's game. He stole 20 bases last season and played a strong left field. He doesn't think the added weight will detract from that part of his game.
"I don't think so," Benintendi said. "I did a lot of agility work in the offseason, so we'll see. Hopefully not."
Benintendi looks forward to playing his role in helping the Red Sox try to win the American League East title for a third straight season, and winning that postseason series that has been so elusive the last two years. He joins Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rafael Devers as the cornerstone youth for the Red Sox.
And yes, Benintendi has heard all about how the Red Sox could use another big bat, perhaps even free agent J.D. Martinez.
"Yeah, that's what I've heard," Benintendi said. "We'll see. I kind of stay away from all that stuff in the offseason. We'll see. Regardless. Either way we have a good team."
Benintendi does admit he feels more at ease entering his second full season.
"I mean, I think there was a little pressure on me last year," Benintendi said. "Coming into Spring Training, I felt like I had to prove a lot. This year I think coming in here and knowing everybody, feeling a lot more comfortable, I'm going try to enjoy it a little more."
Perhaps he'll even let his hair down a little at some point.
"It's gone," Benintendi said of last year's flowing hair. "Maybe not forever. But for a little bit. We'll see how it works out."