Verdugo is "100 Healthy" and the Next Two-Way Player?

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There has been one player on the Red Sox roster that has benefited the most from the delay to the start of the Major League Baseball season and that player is Alex Verdugo.  The new Red Sox outfielder has been rehabbing a stress fracture in his back and says he is “100 percent ready” to play once the teams can resume Spring Training 2 in a few weeks.  The concern when the Red Sox initially acquired him was whether or not he would be ready for the original start of the season. 


Photo courtesy of bosoxinjection.com

Fan criticism was already beginning to swirl around Verdugo due to the Mookie Betts trade, the alleged off-field incident from years ago and the back injury.  Many Red Sox fans were calling Verdugo damaged goods before he was even able to suit up in a Boston uniform and play a single inning at Fenway. 

With Opening Day now a possibility for the new Red Sox outfielder, he is ready to show fans and his new team he is ready to go.  "Whenever the season is, I think I'll be ready," Verdugo told reporters in a conference call.  "If they say that we're ready to go, then I'm out there."  Verdugo has remained active at home since returning from Fort Myers, Florida.  He has been able to return to the ballpark and resume rehabbing to get ready.  If you follow Verdugo on Instagram, he has been posting clips of his rehab from hitting off a tee, to batting practice in the cage, to playing catch. 

"I feel very good.  Just moving around with everything, my swing, my throwing, running, I feel really good.  Whenever the season starts, I think I'll be ready.  Whether that is soon, whether it's a few months down the road, or whatever they may be, I think physically I'm ready”, said Verdugo to Ian Brown of MLB.com.   Now that the focus of getting healthy is in the rearview mirror, the focus for Verdugo is ramping up for the start of the potential upcoming season.  Verdugo will be a key piece to the 2020 Red Sox, especially if they want to contend for a playoff spot this season. 

During one of Verdugo’s Instagram posts this week, he was teasing a video where he wanted to pitch.  Verdugo has talked in the past he wanted to try to be the next two-way player in baseball.  Verdugo has always wanted to have an offseason that included a throwing program and throwing bullpens at spring training to make his regular season debut on the mound.  Coming out of high school in Arizona, Verdugo was listed to having a “plus-plus” arm and a fastball that could hit 93mph.  In fact, last June when the Dodgers visited Fenway Park, Verdugo threw a 97 mph missile to nail Devers at the plate.  Verdugo’s arm is legit, so why not try him out as a potential two-way star?  His focus was to show he could hit at the big league level, which he can.  He also can play a solid defense in the outfield, which is coupled with his plus-plus arm. 

“Once you’re in pro ball, (people said) no more two-ways,” he said.  “Then it was like, a couple of guys came in doing two-way, and I’m like, ‘Maaaannnn! Dude, I could do that!”, said Verdugo to The Athletic.  With players like Angels star Shohei Ohtani, Rays Brendan McKay and Padres Jake Cronenworth can do it, why can’t Dugi?  Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom knows Verdugo’s dream of potentially pitching in Boston.  In fact, he commented on that very matter to The Athletic in an email.  “I generally don’t like to take options off the table,” Bloom said in an email to The Athletic, “but right now our sole focus is on helping Alex through his rehab so he can impact us at the plate and in the outfield!  It just goes to show how confident he is.”

While the focus feels that right now he needs to focus on being a really good outfielder for the Red Sox, the positive is Verdugo is a confident player and wants to help his team win any way he can.  I am excited to see what Verdugo will bring to Boston and will continue to remain open-minded about the former Dodgers top prospect.  Many fans have already written him off and have a bias towards Verdugo based off reports written about him a few years ago and the fact he was the key piece in the Betts trade. 

After sending Betts and Price to the Dodgers, fans feared that the Red Sox would not have the roster to compete for a playoff spot especially in a tougher AL East.  The Rays are coming off a 90-win season, the Yankees are coming off winning the East and adding Gerrit Cole to the top of their rotation, and the Blue Jays have a young core of players that will be exciting to watch this season.  The younger core of the Red Sox, that includes Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi and Eduardo Rodriguez will all be key pieces to the success for the Sox this season.  Verdugo will need to show he can stay healthy and be effective like he was in Los Angeles to show fans, not his team, but the fans he will be a key figure for years to come in Boston. 


Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisHenrique

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Verdugo is "100 Healthy" and the Next Two-Way Player?
Verdugo is "100 Healthy" and the Next Two-Way Player?
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