NEW YORK – Hours after traveling across the country on the Kansas City Royals and checking in at their hotel Wednesday night, Mike Matheny called up defensive back Andrew Benintende.
Benintendi has been traded. But, Matheny tells him, he won’t have to leave his hotel room. New York was about to be his home.
A day after being replaced by Kansas City with a hat-trick from the New York Yankees, Benintende spoke to reporters at Yankee Stadium on Thursday. Entering the home club on the field for the first time, Benintende took part in a 10-minute press conference. The former star of the Royal Family and Boston Red Sox, has reiterated his enthusiasm for laying striped lines and playing for a team he once considered competitive.
“Playing in Boston has prepared me for that atmosphere and obviously I’ve played a lot of games here,” Benintende said. “So I’m looking forward to getting back out there and playing the other side.”
Benintendi was already in the Yankees lineup on Thursday and set out against the team that traded him.
“It’s definitely a strange situation,” Benintende said. “I will obviously keep in touch with these guys, as I have done with my Red Sox teammates from the past.”
Rumors regarding a potential trade deadline move for Benintende around the major tournaments have been circulating for weeks. At one point, the Yankees were thought not to be a lottery contender for the 28-year-old due to his stance on the COVID-19 vaccine.
Benintende had previously said he was against receiving the vaccine, and he is still not immunized.
Each season, the Yankees make regular trips to Toronto, where there is still a vaccine mandate. Canada requires all people traveling to the country to be fully vaccinated against the virus.
On Thursday, Benintende said he was “open” about receiving the vaccine. The Yankees have another trip to Toronto this season, September 26-28.
“I’m not against it, but time will tell as we get closer,” Benintende said. “But right now I’m just focused on getting comfortable with the other players and winning baseball.”
The front office has not yet had a conversation with Benintende about vaccination, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said, adding that the team “will cross that bridge if and when we have to.”
During his five seasons in Boston, Benintende reached post-season three times. In 2018, the Red Sox won the World Championship by defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers. He hit 333 (6 vs. 18) in that series and was the catalyst for the Boston crime.
“I think it’s important,” Boone said. “He’s been there and he’s done that. Now he’s kind of a seasoned player so I’m looking forward to him being part of that room. He’s really in the game, really in baseball, and he’s looking forward to being able to get into the mix and share his experiences.”
“A man we can look up to and have great confidence in any kind of situation we’re in. We feel he’ll be equipped to handle that.”
Boone believes that the presence of Benintendi can make the entire team more diverse. A fast left can hit the top of the rankings, or appear deeper in the lineup. It also gives the Yankees an extra option on the field, as injuries and inconsistent play have forced the team to switch depth chart recently.
With Benintende expected to spend the bulk of his time on the left field, New York could rearrange Aaron Hicks – who’s been playing mostly in recent weeks – into midfield at times, and bring Aaron Judge back into play more regularly. The role of the right field.
“Honestly, it’s going to be a fun game when we get everyone back, hopefully,” Boone said of his lineup.
The listed Giancarlo Stanton aggressively listed 10-day sufferers with left Achilles tendinitis.
After Benintende learned from Matini late on Wednesday that he was being traded, the player stayed in his hotel room and played cards with some of his teammates for the past season and a half.
He has not yet moved out of the hotel, but is working on arrangements for his future stay. When his old Kansas City teammates boarded the buses to head to Yankee Stadium on Thursday afternoon, Benintende had to find an alternate transportation to the Bronx.
“It’s definitely a strange situation, but it is what it is,” Benintende said. “You finally have work to do and I’m excited to get started.”