Kansas City Royals outfielder Andrew Benintendi says day off not injury-related

Outfielder says he felt fine after Sunday's return

Lynn Worthy
The Kansas City Star (TNS)
Kansas City Royals outfielder Andrew Benintendi (16) was not in the lineup Monday after returning from the injured list on Sunday.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Fair or not, the alarm sounded for some Kansas City Royals followers when Andrew Benintendi wasn't in the lineup one day after he made his return from the injured list.

After all, Adalberto Mondesi made two brief-but-impactful returns this season, generated excitement and raised spirits, before injury struck again in a cruel twist.

However, Benintendi said he felt good one day after his first game since June 13. Following batting practice on Monday, he told The Star he didn't have any soreness and remained pain-free.

"It felt good. I mean, everything felt normal and today everything feels normal too," Benintendi said of his first game back. "None of the soreness, nothing like that. So I'm pretty happy with how I feel right now."

The Royals began a three-game series with a 6-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium. Benintendi had a scheduled day off per the recommendation of the training staff.

Royals manager Mike Matheny said that the day off had always been part of the plan.

"We knew going into (Sunday) that it would be a day on and a day off and then we'd reevaluate after today," Matheny said. "He feels great. He was ready. He actually looked good. Just missed a couple pitches, but I'm impressed the timing was as good as it was."

The Royals placed Benintendi on the IL on June 14 with a right rib fracture following a seven-game West Coast road trip that featured games against the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics.

In his return on Sunday, Benintendi went 0 for 3 and came out for pinch hitter Hanser Alberto in the eighth inning. Matheny said that decision had more to do with the Minnesota Twins bringing in left-handed reliever Taylor Rogers and the fact that Benintendi had exerted himself in the field in his first game back.

"Just trying to make sure that we're being smart here," Matheny said.

Benintendi missed a large portion of last year's pandemic-shortened season after he suffered broken ribs on his right side. While this most recent injury occurred on the same side, Benintendi said it didn't happen to the same bone. This time was higher.

He'd actually been playing through "a little something" in that area of his body for a week to a week and a half.

"Nothing serious," Benintendi said. "It wasn't painful to play with. But I woke up one morning and it started hitting me, and that's when I called the trainers."

The morning he made that phone call, the pain had progressed to the point where it had been last year. It had started to affect normal everyday activities such as breathing, sneezing and coughing.

Benintendi missed 18 games and the Royals went 5-13 in his absence.

Prior to his IL stint, the left-handed hitting Benintendi had become an offensive catalyst after a slow start to his first season with the Royals.

Acquired from the Boston Red Sox in a three-team February trade, slashed .283/.340/.429 with eight home runs, six doubles, 31 RBIs and 19 walks in 60 games when he went on the IL.

In May, Benintendi led the team in hits (33) and batted .340 in 27 games.

Benintendi began hitting on the field and doing outfield drills with first base coach/outfield coach Rusty Kuntz over the weekend at Kauffman Stadium when the club returned from it's three-city, 10-game road trip.

The final stop of the road trip was a four-game series against Benintendi's former team, the Red Sox. However, Benintendi said he never had it in mind to force the issue in order to get back to play against his old teammates.

"No, I wasn't going to do anything stupid. I trust the training staff and their plan," Benintendi said. "Things started to feel better sooner than I thought. Once that initial pain kind of subsided, it was just like 'OK let's go.' So I'm happy to be back."