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Benintendi's leg kick; relievers near return

@IanMBrowne
July 31, 2020

Through the first week of the season, no Red Sox hitter has looked more lost at the plate than Andrew Benintendi, who has just two hits in 21 at-bats, and one of them was a bunt. Manager Ron Roenicke held Benintendi out of the lineup against Yankees lefty Jordan Montgomery

Through the first week of the season, no Red Sox hitter has looked more lost at the plate than Andrew Benintendi, who has just two hits in 21 at-bats, and one of them was a bunt.

Manager Ron Roenicke held Benintendi out of the lineup against Yankees lefty Jordan Montgomery on Friday night and thinks that Benintendi has a timing issue related to his leg kick.

"He changes that leg lift," said Roenicke. "Sometimes it's a timing mechanism that helps him really start to generate some more bat speed, but it's also to the point that, if you're a little late with it, you're always trying to catch up.

"Any time you have a leg kick, the biggest thing is trying to have that same rhythm and timing that when you're going good, it seems to always be there. When you're going bad, you're always struggling with it. You're trying to catch up. [The] worst thing you can try to do is try to catch up. If you're a little bit early, it's better than being a little bit late."

The Red Sox have three left-handed-hitting outfielders, which leaves Roenicke with a decision every time they face a lefty starter on which of them sits. The right-handed-hitting Kevin Pillar will also start against a lefty, and he took over for Benintendi in the leadoff spot on Friday.

It was Jackie Bradley Jr. that didn't start in Wednesday's win. On other occasions, it will be Alex Verdugo or Benintendi. Through their first eight games, the Sox have faced five lefties and three righties. They will face another left-hander on Sunday.

"I'm going to try to, I don't want to say rotate, but I'm going to try to mix it up a little bit with that one left-hander who sits when we face a lefty," Roenicke said. "I imagine Benny would be back in there on Sunday against the next lefty, but I'll keep switching it up.

"The thing with Verdugo is, because of the history of him being able to hit left-handers, it kind of allows me to think about him being in there more often, but the other guys, I think they'll trade off -- whether it's a rotation or who's hot. We'll try to figure those things out."

The Red Sox will be best off when Benintendi is that guy who is hot. As their expected leadoff hitter this season, Benintendi offers a dynamic skillset that should make the entire offense perform better when he is setting the right tone.

Taylor, Hernandez getting close
The Red Sox could be getting close to having two key lefties back in their bullpen in Josh Taylor and Darwinzon Hernandez.

Both tested positive for COVID-19 at the beginning of Summer Camp.

"Josh is throwing his second live BP today [at our alternate training site]," said Roenicke. "Darwinzon will do it tomorrow. And then their next time is in a game, a simulated game there [in Pawtucket, R.I.]. And then after that, we'll make a decision. If we think Josh is ready for a one-inning stint, he could be active shortly after that. With Darwinzon, it just depends on whether we think we need to stretch him out a little bit more. If we do, he could be just behind J.T."

Both pitchers are not only helpful for the bullpen, but they could also be in play for opener scenarios.

Godley making Stadium debut
Not only will Red Sox righty Zack Godley be getting his introduction to the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry when he takes the ball on Saturday, but it will be his first career appearance at Yankee Stadium.

"It's exciting," Godley said. "That lineup speaks for itself. They do what they do night in, night out. The biggest thing is trying to get ground balls. Trying to let the defense work. It's about all you can do. Just try and limit the damage as much as possible and let our guys go to work on the other side."

Godley had a strong debut with the Red Sox in relief on Monday, firing four shutout innings while walking none and striking out seven.

It's unclear whether he will be more of an opener or a traditional starter on Saturday. It likely depends on how he performs.

"I'm looking to extend myself as long as I possibly can," Godley said. "It all depends on how the game goes. The game dictates how deep you go into a game. Honestly, if things are going smoothly and I'm getting quick outs, there is a possibility I can go farther. Honestly, I don't know. It depends on how my body feels and just on how everything goes."

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