Notes: Leadoff woes; Devers improving

August 11th, 2020

BOSTON -- In some ways, the Red Sox have been able to withstand the loss of Mookie Betts.

This has been particularly true with defense in right field, where and have both made sensational catches and strong throws.

Verdugo and Pillar have also had their moments offensively.

However, there is one place the Sox seem lost without Betts. And it's at the top of their batting order.

For the past five seasons, Betts was the primary leadoff hitter, and he put up superstar numbers. At this point, the Red Sox would settle for something close to league average.

Through the Sox's first 16 games, manager Ron Roenicke's leadoff breakdown went like this: seven starts for ; four for Pillar; three for ; two for Verdugo. The numbers? A slash line of .119/.203/.149 with four runs, two doubles, no homers and two RBIs in 75 plate appearances.

After inserting Verdugo into that spot on Saturday and Sunday and Pillar there on Monday, Benintendi was back up top on Tuesday.

Benintendi's struggles have been more pronounced than anyone on the team. He entered the night 2-for-36 on the season, and one of the hits was a bunt.

Why go back to Benintendi at leadoff against a righty before he emerges from his slump instead of Verdugo?

"Just still switching them off and trying to figure out where one belongs versus another," said Roenicke. "They both, I think, would probably prefer hitting second, so it's kind of switching them off there. But also looking at pinch-hit situations on where we think if we do make a switch with a pinch-hitter where that fits better."

What makes Roenicke think they'd both prefer to hit second?

"Conversations with them," said Roenicke. "Some guys just feel better [in certain spots]. I don't know if it's always success driven. I think when you have big success no matter where you're at, you feel better in that situation and want to do it.

"Neither one of them have told me they don't want to lead off. It's just, when you talk to somebody about their preferences and where they're more comfortable, hitting second you get to watch kind of a batter ahead of you and what goes on. Sometimes that's important to you. It's just the success you've had in the past, and probably where you've been used most in the past always makes a difference."

Devers getting better
For the second straight day, Red Sox third baseman was out of Boston's lineup with a sore left ankle. However, he demonstrated enough improvement that there's a chance he could be back in there on Wednesday.

"Pretty good," said Roenicke. "Went out and did some hitting in the cage, took some ground balls today, ran a little bit. So he's doing way better. We weren't quite sure where he was going to be at after last night, but a lot better today."

There was even better news with first baseman , who was back in the lineup after being unavailable to pinch-hit on Monday due to left knee soreness.

"He's got a big, strong body that has just taken a beating. So when he's good, he can be great for a week and then all of a sudden we need to rest him or he could be good for two days and we need to rest him," Roenicke said. "It's not a daily conversation, but it's something that's there that we need to talk to him constantly about."

Stock exchange
The Red Sox made yet another move to replenish their overworked bullpen on Tuesday, recalling righty from their alternate training site in Pawtucket, R.I., and optioning lefty .

Stock had some positive results for the Padres in 2018, notching a 2.50 ERA in in 32 games. Last season, he posted a 10.13 ERA in 10 games with San Diego.

"I know he's got big velo, he's got big stuff," said pitching coach Dave Bush. "He's had some success in the past and has also had some times where he hasn't been [successful]. There's an injury history there, too. From what I've heard, the last couple weeks he's been really good down there. Velo was up, stuff was good and he has some Major League experience. He's a guy we can bring up and plug in right away."