FORT MYERS, Fla. — Spring training lineups, particularly early on, are usually not indicative of anything more than a manager trying to make sure everybody gets their at-bats.
But Red Sox manager John Farrell selected Andrew Benintendi to bat second against the New York Mets on Friday for a reason. It’s where the rookie left fielder could end up on Opening Day.
Four of the Red Sox’ best hitters — Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, and Hanley Ramirez — bat righthanded. Benintendi bats lefthanded and his presence in the second slot would make it more difficult for opposing managers to use their bullpen.
Benintendi fits the traditional profile of a No. 2 hitter in that he gets on base at a high rate and runs well. Data analysts believe a team’s best hitter should bat second regardless of what he looks like or how he runs. Their research shows such an alignment is the best way to extract the most value.
The 22-year-old Benintendi is not the best hitter on the team. But he could be in that conversation fairly soon given his impressive debut last season.
“That’s one potential alignment that we would consider. We’ll certainly take a look at it while we’re here in camp,” Farrell said. “What he showed us in the handful of games last year was a very good ability to get the bat to many spots in the strike zone.”
Benintendi was 0 for 2 with a walk in a 3-2 loss Friday.
“Hopefully on his part there’s no different view than if he’s hitting in any other spot of the order,” Farrell said.
Farrell has no concerns about putting a rookie in an important spot.
“A lot of times, a player is going to tell you what he’s ready for or capable of and how you would think he would handle adversity by not being fragile mentally. If we didn’t feel that way about Andrew, I don’t know that he’d be in the big leagues last year,” he said.
Bogaerts shifts spots
Bogaerts worked out at third base with infield coach Brian Butterfield early in the day. He will be playing that position for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.
The Dutch have Andrelton Simmons at shortstop, so Bogaerts volunteered to play third base. He last played there in 2014.
“The speed of the ball hit to you is the biggest challenge,” Bogaerts said. “I felt great out there.”
Bogaerts leaves for Korea next week to join his team. The Netherlands starts play March 7.
From way downtown
Chris Sale, the pride of Florida Gulf Coast University, invited a group of teammates to attend the school’s basketball game Thursday. The Eagles beat Stetson, but the real action was after the game.
Sale, Ramirez, and Joe Kelly went down to the court to put up a few shots. Ramirez knocked down a half-court jumper. Sale also hit from 47 feet with a bit of a running start.
But it was Kelly who hit the shot of the night, a full-court swish on his third attempt. The shot was captured on video and ended up on “SportsCenter.”
“I’ve done it a few times, not filmed though,” said Kelly, who referred to himself as “McBuckets” on Twitter. “I didn’t even know I was being filmed.”
Kelly did not play basketball in high school. He focused entirely on baseball.
“Basketball is too hard on your body,” he said. “It’s a different kind of shape running up and down the floor.”
Farrell saw the video and was impressed.
“It’s a long strike,” he said. “It’s not part of the throwing program. But, still, it’s a hell of a throw.”
Farrell said players heaving basketballs “isn’t ideal” but he trusted them to be smart about not overdoing it.
With their main starters being held back to next week, Roenis Elias will start against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday. The lefthander was 15-20 with a 3.97 earned run average in 54 games for Seattle from 2014-15 but appeared in only three games for the Sox last season . . . Rick Porcello will throw two innings in an intrasquad game Sunday. David Price is scheduled for that on Tuesday . . . A small bird found its way into the Red Sox clubhouse and perched on light fixtures and ceiling girders to avoid entrapment by ambitious players.