NEW YORK -- The 2019 Red Sox will be looking a whole lot more like that 2018 version ... at least when it comes to the lineup.
Alex Cora announced prior to his team's game against the Yankees Saturday night that Mookie Betts would be inserted back in the leadoff spot for the remainder of the season. The move flip-flops the right fielder with Andrew Benintendi, who has spent the majority of 2019 in the batting order's top spot.
"I mean, just talked to him a little bit about it, what was the thought process," Cora regarding Betts. "It’s something I told him last year whenever we were going to make a decision about lining up changes and all that. I let him know and we go from there, avoid the bouncing around, obviously with lefties and righties the last few days that’s been going on. Just told him, and he was cool with it."
Coming into Saturday, the Red Sox leadoff spot had scored the fifth-fewest runs in baseball. It was partly a product of Benintendi never truly thriving in the top spot, with the lefty hitter managing just a .081 batting average (3-for-37, 5 walks) when serving as the first batter for the Sox.
Betts, of course, excelled as the Red Sox' leadoff hitter a year ago, winning the American League MVP while hitting .346 with a 1.087 OPS. The Sox led all teams in runs scored in the first inning, totaling 159, which was 23 more than any other club.
"We ask players to make adjustments and the way things are going, the way things we felt offensively -- it’s not about at-bats with men on," Cora said. "We felt there are certain things we were able to do last year offensively, that combo that way, that this year it’s not possible because we have that guy hitting second. I know people are getting caught up in Benny leading off and all that. He was 2-for-whatever. But even when he’s getting on, they had that guy behind him and it’s kind of like, should we run? How are we going to handle this? And we like to play fast, we like to run. Everybody knows it so it’s not a secret. I do feel that this way it opens up a few things for us offensively to get going. Just relying on the home run or not putting pressure on the opposition and I think this way we can do it."