We don’t envy anyone who’s played left field for the Boston Red Sox in 2016.
The Red Sox have had unusually bad luck with injuries at the position, as eight different players have made appearances in left this season.
Boston appeared to have found its answer in rookie phenom Andrew Benintendi, but the injury bug struck again Wednesday night, when the 22-year-old sprained his left knee while making a baserunning blunder in the Red Sox’s extra-innings loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
Benintendi’s injury comes just two days after Chris Young returned to the club following an extensive stint on the disabled list with a hamstring strain. Young appears a likely candidate to take over Benintendi’s spot should the rookie miss extended time, but the 32-year-old hasn’t played on an everyday basis since June and was acquired this offseason primarily to face left-handed pitchers, so the Red Sox could seek more depth at the position.
So, who should they turn to? Super utility man Brock Holt, Boston’s Opening Day left fielder, is an option, but he’s batting just .244 in August. There also are three candidates in the minor league system who could fill in: Rusney Castillo, Ryan LaMarre and Bryce Brentz.
Castillo largely has been a disappointment for Boston, but he’s showing signs of promise lately, posting a .348 batting average in August for Triple-A Pawtucket and tallying four doubles, four triples and eight RBIs in his last 24 games.
Brentz had his moments during his brief stint as the Red Sox’s left fielder, with three doubles and six RBIs in 22 games. LaMarre, meanwhile, is hitting at a .300 clip for Pawtucket this season with 32 RBIs in 76 games.
It will be difficult for any of the players listed above to match what Benintendi has given the Red Sox recently. But such is the curse of Boston’s left field, and the club will have to make do with what it has until more is known about the rookie’s injury.
Let’s hit a few other notes from Red Sox-Rays:
— Boston lost this one in pretty brutal fashion.
Reliever Heath Hembree appeared to induce an inning-ending ground ball in the 11th, but he couldn’t hold onto Travis Shaw’s flip to first base, which allowed Rays catcher Luke Maile to scamper home with the winning run.
Catcher Sandy Leon also dropped Hembree’s throw to the plate that could have nabbed Maile.
— Craig Kimbrel has been pretty much unhittable since returning from the disabled list.
The Red Sox closer helped send the game into extras by striking out both batters he faced in the ninth inning. Opponents now are 2-for-30 with 17 strikeouts against Kimbrel since his Aug. 1 return, an .067 batting average that’s the lowest against any pitcher in the American League in August.
— David Ortiz received a special gift from the Rays on Tuesday as he plays his final games at Tropicana Field. Big Papi also delivered his own parting shot to the Trop on Wednesday.
— Pablo Sandoval wasn’t the only injured Red Sox player to show his face at Tropicana Field on Wednesday.
Relief pitcher Carson Smith, who underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in May, paid a visit to his teammates and admitted he’s having a difficult time observing from the sideline.
“It’s tough to watch (the games) sometimes,” Smith told reporters, via WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. “I can’t sit down there every night because I know I want to be out there contributing as much as I can.”
Smith is on track to begin throwing in about three weeks, per Bradford, and hopes to return early in the 2017 season.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images