Benintendi betting that bulk adds blasts

Left fielder focusing on gaining weight in offseason

Benintendi betting that bulk adds blasts

BOSTON -- Forgive Andrew Benintendi if he didn't get caught up in that common New Year's resolution craze of trying to lose weight. Quite the opposite, in fact.

The Red Sox's left fielder has spent much of his offseason adding weight that should be beneficial for his first full season in the Major Leagues.

Listed generously at 5-foot-10, Benintendi estimates he weighed around 165 or 170 when the 2016 season ended, and he is now at a lifetime high of 185.

"For me, it's tough to gain weight, so I've just been eating a lot, and I'm working out," said Benintendi. "It's been tough, but obviously it's worth it."

Benintendi envisions the weight will help keep him energized throughout the season while allowing him to add some power. The left-handed hitter has the type of swing that should lead to a barrage of doubles at Fenway Park. In his first 105 at-bats in the Majors, 14 of Benintendi's 31 hits were for extra bases -- two for home runs.

Fans took notice of Benintendi's stronger physique after he quoted someone else's tweet of him in full workout mode on Jan. 17.

"I didn't know it was going to blow up like that. I didn't know if you quote a tweet, everybody can see it," Benintendi said. "I was just trying to get some publicity for the place I work out. It's an awesome place, and those guys work hard."

Speaking of working hard, the 22-year-old Benintendi's work ethic is one reason he has gotten to the Major Leagues more quickly than people imagined. The Red Sox selected him as the seventh overall pick in the 2015 Draft, and he was getting key hits in a pennant race for Boston by August '16.

Last year at this time, Benintendi was preparing for his first Minor League camp as a professional. Now, he comes in as the starting left fielder, joining a talented young outfield that also includes Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts.

Benintendi's solo homer to right

"A lot can happen in a year. I'm thankful to be here," said Benintendi. "Honestly, last offseason compared to this offseason, I wasn't as prepared as I am right now. Going into this offseason, I had a lot of work to do. I put on some weight to try to better myself in that way. It's gone well so far."

Benintendi will still be considered a rookie in 2017, which makes him one of the favorites to win the American League Rookie of the Year Award. The last Red Sox player to win that award, fittingly, was Dustin Pedroia in '07. Benintendi and Pedroia have the same gritty makeup, fueled by years of being underappreciated due to a lack of size.

This year, however, they won't live together. Pedroia invited Benintendi to live in his Boston home after his callup this past summer.

"I think I'm going to get my own place this year, unless Pedroia is going to offer," said Benintendi.

But that Pedroia-like drive isn't going to leave Benintendi, even heading into a season where it seems like he already has a job in the starting lineup.

"I think I'm always competing for a spot -- anything can happen," Benintendi said. "I'm just going to go in with the same mentality I did last year. A little different situation now, but looking forward to it."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.