Red Sox Notes: Andrew Benintendi, Sandy Leon Shine At Plate; Bullpen Bounces Back

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BOSTON — Andrew Benintendi came to the major leagues with high expectations given his status as one of the premier prospects in all of baseball.

The 22-year-old outfielder hasn’t disappointed for the Boston Red Sox, especially at the plate. He collected two hits — a single and an RBI double — in Boston’s 6-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday night at Fenway Park.

Benintendi has played in 10 games for the Red Sox and he’s hitting .379 (11 for 29) with five runs, five RBI and a .419 on-base percentage. It’s a small sample size, sure, but this production at the bottom of the order has been quite valuable given the slumps and injuries seen with some of the guys at the top of the order.

His ability to lay off pitches out of the zone and capitalize on ones in the zone is a display of plate discipline rarely seen with rookies. It’s one of many reasons why Benintendi could play a key role in the Red Sox lineup as the playoff race heats up in September.

He’s good enough to start and also has the versatility to play multiple outfield positions, which allows everyday players such as Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. to receive some much-needed days off.

Here are some other notes from Saturday’s game.

— Sandy Leon hit his fifth home run of the season to right field in the fifth inning. He’s given the Red Sox unexpected offense from the catcher spot with a .390 average, 21 RBI and a .433 on-base percentage through 40 games. Leon also has 10 hits over his last six games.

— The bottom of the Red Sox order (Andrew Benintendi, Brock Holt, Sandy Leon) went 5 for 10 with six runs and four RBI. Holt and Leon both hit home runs.

“We’ve talked a lot this year that that’s the part of the order that has a chance to separate us from some teams offensively,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

“What Sandy Leon continues to do is not only remarkable, but it’s outstanding the way he’s come on this year. Brock Holt seemingly getting his timing back a little more consistently (Friday night). Andrew has come up here almost at a rapid ascent to the big leagues — all fields stroke, a big double into right-center field gap. (Dustin Pedroia) with a couple of hits at the top of the order. That turn of the order was the difference in this one tonight.”

— The Sox bullpen, which has struggled of late, pitched 4 and 2/3 scoreless innings. Brad Ziegler stole the show in the eighth inning by coming in and striking out the side on 10 pitches after Matt Barnes had walked the bases loaded with nobody out.

“Knowing we were going to go to the bullpen fairly early tonight with the way things were setting up with Clay (Buchholz) on the mound, those guys came to that mound, that bullpen and not only kept the game under control, they did a solid and good job,” Farrell said.

— Farrell said Friday that injured starter Steven Wright had made “substantial improvement” in his recovery from shoulder inflammation, and he provided another positive update Saturday.

?A day that was better than (Friday),? Farrell said. ?Everything points to him getting on the mound on Monday. He continues to go through treatment. While he?s not completely symptom free, they have certainly diminished. He?s moving in the right direction.?

The best-case scenario for Wright is he makes his next start Thursday against the Detroit Tigers on the road. Farrell said Wright pitching that day is “still to be determined,” though.

— Top prospect Yoan Moncada, who made his first start at third base for Double-A Portland on Friday, is slated to play that position during the Arizona Fall League as well, per Farrell. The Red Sox manager wouldn’t say if Moncada will come up to the major leagues when rosters expand in September.

— Red Sox pitching prospect Michael Kopech gave an impressive performance Saturday night.

— Farrell also provided an update Pablo Sandoval, saying the third baseman has lost 15 pounds during his training in Fort Myers, Fla.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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