Family sees Benintendi get first two hits

Family sees Benintendi get first two hits

SEATTLE -- If Andrew Benintendi remained calm on the outside after striking his first Major League hit, a laser single to left in the third inning, his family members let the emotion flow in their seats behind home plate.

Chris Benintendi, Andrew's dad, raised his arms in triumph and stayed in that pose for a while. Jill, Andrew's mother, hugged nearby family members.

"That was a lot of fun," said Chris Benintendi. "He played well, number one, but he was able to share this experience with 18 people here from Cincinnati and countless others back home watching it on TV so it was great."

It was a moment nobody in the family will ever forget, and the only bummer was that the Red Sox took a 3-1 loss to the Mariners.

On a night Boston produced just seven hits, two came from Benintendi, who also laced a single to right in the eighth.

"It felt good to get it out of the way," said Andrew Benintendi. "I don't really know how to explain it. Just one of those things you dream about your entire life. Got to first base, and it kind of set in. It was really exciting."

Just 14 months after he was drafted by the Red Sox, it's a bit surreal for Benintendi and his family that he's in the Major Leagues and ready to help out in a pennant race.

Would the word ecstatic accurately summed up the way the family felt when Andrew Benintendi was summoned to the Major Leagues earlier this week?

"I guess you could say that. I think we all were," said Chris. "Quite honestly, we're thrilled with Andrew because this was a goal of his and he accomplished a goal and it's no different than our daughters accomplishing a goal they have in mind or quite frankly many parents have kids that do things that they set out to do and they probably feel the same pride that Jill and I feel tonight."

Benintendi's dad on son's debut

The feel-good portion of the story aside, Benintendi -- ranked No. 7 among prospects by MLBPipeline.com -- demonstrated with his two hits why he's advanced so swiftly through the Minors.

"We already know that he can hit," said Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. "It was good to see him get a couple of hits right away."

Benintendi was pleased to give his cheering section a reason to applaud.

"Some of them flew up this morning, and they're flying out tonight, so I've had a support system like that my entire life, whether it be high school or college," Benintendi said. "I'm really not surprised they made the long trip out here from Cincinnati and I'm grateful that they did."

Stationed in the No. 9 spot in the order and starting against right-handers only, Benintendi will play a complementary role at this point while Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, Ortiz and others do the heavy lifting. But at some point, Benintendi could well emerge into a focal point.

Early impressions?

"Very good," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Good plate coverage. He's got a good level swing. It was encouraging to see him be able to handle pitches on both sides of the plate. A good night for him."

And a great night for the Benintendi family.

Chris Benintendi has never rooted for his son to go hitless, but he was a bit relieved that Andrew went 0-for-2 off the bench in Tuesday's debut. For none of the family was at Safeco Field for that game.

It turns out Chris had nodded off at his Cincinnati home when Andrew struck out looking to end Tuesday night's 5-4 loss.

"I woke up about 2 in the morning and he had texted me and said, 'Did you see?' I was like, 'Oh my God, what did I miss?' Then I read what happened with the game and I saw a clip this morning about how the game ended," said Chris Benintendi. "First thing he said to me this morning, 'that ball was four inches outside, dad.' Of course, I responded, 'with two strikes, you can't let blue control the game. You have to at least foul the ball off."'

One thing Chris Benintendi knows is that his son will have no problem with the natural ebbs and flows of a baseball career.

"I think that's really his greatest asset," said Chris. "If you've met Andrew, he's kind of like, even. You could say, 'Andrew, your house is burning down' or 'You've won a million bucks,' and he reacts the same way, which is good for this game. You're going to get hits, and you're going to strike out and end the game. But his approach is the same. Even as a boy and a high-school player, whether it be basketball or baseball, he could handle the success as well as the failure."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.