Ron Roenicke Reveals Two Secondary Leadoff Options For Red Sox’s Lineup

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The early indication is Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers likely will bat first and second, respectively, atop the Boston Red Sox’s lineup for most games this season.

Both Benintendi and Devers are left-handed hitters, though, and Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke acknowledged Monday that certain circumstances could lead to an occasional shakeup.

So, who might be considered for Boston’s leadoff role if Benintendi stumbles and/or Roenicke decides to break up his expected 1-2 punch against lefty pitchers?

The skipper identified two possible options: Kevin Pillar and Jose Peraza.

?I know Pillar can do it. I feel good with him up there against the left-handers,? Roenicke told reporters, per MassLive.com.com. ?And then we?ll just kind of see. We?ll see how Peraza hits. He?s a possibility. He?s a guy I?m familiar with that used to be a good baserunner, a good basestealer. So I think we have some options.

“But right off the bat, I may go with the two left-handers and give those guys a chance to do it. And I know we?ve talked about the short season, how we need to get off to a good start. But I still know that if those two guys are hitting well, Andrew and Devers, like we?ve seen so far — they?re hitting left-handers and right-handers right now, so I feel pretty comfortable with both of them.?

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Benintendi is coming off an underwhelming 2019 after making a strong All-Star push in 2018. He’s had some struggles against left-handers in the past, but he actually improved in that regard last season, hitting .269 with five home runs, 27 RBIs, a .358 on-base percentage and a .796 OPS in 188 plate appearances versus southpaws. The 26-year-old batted .265 with eight homers, 41 RBIs, a .336 on-base percentage and a .764 OPS in 427 plate appearances against right-handers.

Devers, meanwhile, had an exceptional 2019, although it’s worth noting his numbers were much better against right-handers (25 homers, 86 RBIs, .330/.388/.608 in 483 plate appearances) than against left-handers (seven homers, 29 RBIs, .269/.301/.442 in 219 plate appearances).

Neither Pillar nor Peraza — two right-handed hitters — is known for his on-base ability. So, one could argue either would be an imperfect fit for the leadoff role should Roenicke remove Benintendi at any point. But both historically have fared better against lefties than righties. And they both have speed, which always is a plus when trying to apply early pressure on your opponent.

It’s also not unreasonable to think Alex Verdugo could completely change the conversation by season’s end. He handles the bat well, gets on base at a decent clip and actually has a higher career batting average against lefties (.306 in 133 plate appearances) than righties (.273 in 355 plate appearances) despite swinging from the left side.

?Down the road, I think he has everything you would need in a leadoff hitter,? Roenicke said. ?And when he starts finding his rhythm and his timing, and he gets confident, I think we can put him anywhere. Whether it?s leadoff, second. Whether it?s fifth, sixth, seventh. Wherever that is, I think offensively he could do a good job.?

Nevertheless, Roenicke faces a tall task this season, for a number of reasons, and it starts right at the top of Boston’s lineup, where the newly appointed skipper will be forced to account for Mookie Betts’ departure.

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