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How Red Sox rookie Andrew Benintendi is handling this unprecedented amount of attention

03.19.17 at 11:37 pm ET
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Andrew Benintendi (Reinhold Matay/USA Today Sports)

Andrew Benintendi (Reinhold Matay/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A few days ago, it was a Sports Illustrated photographer telling Andrew Benintendi to jump toward the camera, lay down on the grass, and simulate making all kind of catches.

“That,” Benintendi said with a smile, “was kind of weird.”

But all of this is a little weird for the 22-year-old. At least it should be.

Benintendi has been marching through his first big league camp with perhaps more potential distractions than any Red Sox rookie before him. Sports Illustrated was just one example of those trying to tug on the outfielder’s time. Sunday it was the MLB Network. There have been at least 10 other formal requests to go along with the daily wave of media heading to his locker.

“He’s been up there with [Chris] Sale, [Rick] Porcello, [David] Price, [Dustin] Pedroia. He’s been up there with those guys. Really only Mookie [Betts, Price and Sale have had more requests,” said Red Sox media relations director Kevin Gregg. “He’s been requested like he’s been a regular player for a long time now. This is by far the most I’ve seen for a rookie.”

Is it a concern for the man who is largely responsible for helping Benintendi direct this traffic?

“No, I don’t because I think he had a good routine in place and he frequently checks in with us about his time and what he needs to do,” Gregg added. “He’s done a good job of balancing it.”

Benintendi’s manager agrees.

“I think he’s handled it well,” John Farrell said. “He’s a very even-tempered personality and having seen that because of maybe some of the additional requests take away from his personal routine, creating frustration. He’s a pretty level-headed person.”

Watching Benintendi, it’s hard to remember this is his first spring training with the big leaguers. A year ago, he was on the back fields sitting with 40,000 few Twitter followers than he currently boasts. Now, he’s weaving in and out of the land mines that come with his current existence while hitting .308 with a .981 OPS in 39 Grapefruit League at-bats.

“I remember coming over and I didn’t know what to do,” said Benintendi of the two games he played in with the major league team last spring training (going 3-for-4). “It was like a ‘What do I do with my hands?’ kind of moment. Now it’s good.”

Somewhat surprisingly, Benintendi said he was not only expecting the out-the-ordinary attention, but feels like he was equipped to handle it. Life in the spotlight as one of college baseball’s best players, along with living with the label as the game’s No. 1 prospect, offered ample warning.

“Sometimes you might feel like a bad guy saying no all the time, but we have to get our stuff done,” he said. “But I’m a lot more prepared than I was a year ago.”

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