Red Sox: Alex Verdugo Is Ready For The Sequel To His Successful First Season In Boston

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“This guy is a baseball player” - Dodgers manager Dave Roberts on Alex Verdugo


Red Sox star outfielder Alex Verdugo’s spring has been lackluster.  Despite the numbers the young outfielder is working on making adjustments and getting ready for the season. 


Alex Verdugo of the Red Sox smiles after stealing second base during the seventh inning in a game against the Phillies at Fenway Park on August 19, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo By Matt Stone/ MediaNews Group/Boston Herald


The Red Sox are less than a week away from the start of the season.  Boston will play the Orioles on Opening Day from Fenway Park.  This will be the first time fans will be able to watch Verdugo live since his trade to Boston. 


Last season, Verdugo displayed his passion on the field.  The start of his Red Sox career he struggled at the plate.  He would let his frustrations take over behind the Red Sox dugout.  On the Baseball Tonight with Buster Olney Podcast, Verdugo talked about how his anger and passion was coming from a good place. 


“Every at-bat it felt like I was going into the tunnel and hitting something or throwing a helmet down,” Verdugo said.  Veteran and former Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland would pull the young charismatic outfielder aside and lend him advice. 


“Mitch kind of made a side comment, like ‘Shoot.  Seeing him act like that has got me exhausted.’  Like I’m tiring him out just watching what I’m doing.  And I sat back on that.  I thought about it, and I went over there and I apologized to the team,” said Verdugo. 


“This anger, this stuff that I show, I want you guys to know that it’s from a good place,” states Verdugo as he reflected on when he apologized to his team.  “It’s because I’m a competitor.  I’m so used to competing.”


Since Verdugo has arrived in Boston he has been a polarizing player.  The centerpiece of the Mookie Betts trade last season let the media know right away he wasn’t here to replace Betts. 


“I’m not replacing him,” Verdugo told reporters following a game last season.  “Yeah, he played here, but this is a game.  This is a business.  He decided to go elsewhere.  I’m not replacing him.  That’s what you guys say.  That’s what everybody else says.  I’m going out there and playing right field, playing my game.”


Verdugo’s comments let the Boston media know he was going to be his own player.  New Red Sox starter Garrett Richards took notice to Verdugo’s comments. 


“I remember him last year, when (reporters) were asking him about trying to fill Mookie Betts’ shoes and him just simply saying like, ‘I’m not trying to fill anybody’s shoes, I’m just here to play my game and be me,’” said Richards.  “I think from that moment on, I was on him.  And everything has been as advertised since I got here.”


Verdugo’s first season was an overall success with the Red Sox last season.  Prior to the trade there was concern over his aligning back issue.  The delay to the season due to the coronavirus shutdown allowed him to heal and be ready for the delayed start. 


Through his first 28 plate appearances last season, Verdugo struggled. He had a slash line of .231/.286/.231 with no extra-base hits, no RBI, two walks, and sevens strikeouts. 


Those numbers, and the self-added pressure, resulted in those early season eruptions behind the dugout.  Once Verdugo settled down with the help and support of his teammates he shined the rest of the way. 


Former Red Sox left-hander, and Verdugo’s teammate in Los Angeles, Rich Hill had positive things to say about the right fielder. 


“When I heard the trade happened, I had gotten the chance to talk to a few people in Boston and just said, ‘Hey, you guys got a really good player here, and not just any player,'” Hill told Baseball Tonight’s Olney. 


“I think he can be a perennial All-Star and be a standout in Boston because of his ability to put the bat to the ball and consistently create damage with runners on and/or start a rally,” added Hill. 


The 6-foot outfielder is poised for a successful sequel to his first season with the Red Sox.

   
Verdugo would go on to earn an American League MVP vote last season.  He finished the season hitting .308 with an .844 OPS, with six home runs, four stolen bases and he collected seven outfield assists. 


“Physically, I’m in a lot better position than I was last year.  Right now, it’s just getting some at-bats and I’ve been having better at-bats, working the count deep,” said Verdugo. 


Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo / Instagram


The sequel, which he refers it to on his Instagram page, is about to begin and Verdugo is ready to build off a strong first season in Boston.  Opening Day will provide fans at Fenway Park for the first time since 2019, and Verdugo is ready to play in front of the Fenway Fatithful. 


“We’re all excited to have fans back, excited to get back into this normalcy,” Verdugo said to Ian Browne of MLB.com.  “Excited to get back to this normal life we live in.  Obviously this year, we know we can be pretty good and competitive.  We’re just kind of keeping a positive mindset.  Everyone is working and doing what we need to do.”


Verdugo will display that same energy that has driven him to be the player and teammate he is today.  For Red Sox fans, the Verdugo sequel is “about to go crazy”. 



Follow Chris on Twitter @chrishenrique

Check out the Red Sox Podcast to be Named Later, the Syndicate’s podcast dedicated solely to the Boston Red Sox and the rest of Major League Baseball.  Follow our Red Sox Podcast to be Named Later on Twitter @RedSoxPod_BSS.


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Boston Sports Syndicate: Red Sox: Alex Verdugo Is Ready For The Sequel To His Successful First Season In Boston
Red Sox: Alex Verdugo Is Ready For The Sequel To His Successful First Season In Boston
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