Andrew Benintendi, the rent-a-player the Yankees couldn’t buy last season, simply didn’t want to play in New York — too much pressure, too many mouthy fans for the Midwestern guy — so he signed with the White Sox as a free agent in the off-season.
Turns out, New York or Chicago, he’d be playing on a lousy team — although he could have done Yankees fans the ultimate favor by signing and pushing Aaron Hicks off the roster. Benintendi broke Yankees fans’ hearts when he signed a five-year, $75 million deal in January — and left field is still a mess in the Bronx.
The White Sox are 9-21, eight games behind the division-leading Minnesota Twins — and get this, their general manager is actually under fire. The Yankees, who have turned the team bus into an ambulance, are 16-15 and in last place in the AL East, 8.5 games behind the Rays — and not a peep from Hal Steinbrenner about Brian Cashman.
But here’s the good news for Benintendi: On a lousy team, you can be a hero with a great catch and a ninth-inning single, because there ain’t much competition in the box score.
On Tuesday, Benintendi robbed Carlos Correa of a home run in the first inning, then drove in the winning run with a single to left to give the Sox a 3-2 victory over the Twins. All this while still smarting from getting hit by a pitch on the elbow on Friday.
Benintendi has started slowly, hitting .277 without a homer and just six RBI in 101 at-bats.
“We’re not going to really appreciate everything he can do until Game 162, and then everyone’s going to see how much he really brings to the table,” Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “Among all the baseball things he did (Tuesday), he played hurt. He got hit by a pitch (Friday) and his (right) arm, he’s still not 100%. He’s not even close.
“He goes out to make that play in left field and that’s the arm that he got hit on, so right away that sent a jolt through that arm. I’ve been around him. I know him. He’s a gamer, he’s a winner. I wouldn’t expect anything less from him than that last at-bat right there.”
Benintendi’s hit gave the Sox back-to-back walk-off wins for the first time since May 1-2, 2019. For the first time this season, the Sox have won two straight games.
“Walk-offs are always fun regardless of the time, but definitely glad to be on this side and get our first two games back to back of the season,” Benintendi said. “We are just going a day at a time now and take it slow and play well.
“If you look any further than that, you are going to put yourself in less of a good situation. So just focus on one day at a time and try to win each day and hopefully that amounts to a good streak.”
With advice like that, he would’ve fit right in with the 2023 Yankees.