4 full seasons into his Pink Sox tenure, outfielder Alex Verdugo has but to change into the man in Boston.
As the principle piece in Boston’s return of the Mookie Betts-Los Angeles Dodgers commerce in 2020, Verdugo was in all probability by no means going to fill Betts’s large sneakers. Betts was a homegrown expertise, 2018 World Sequence champion and American League MVP who grew to become beloved at Fenway Park since his debut in 2014.
Nonetheless, Verdugo has been one of many workforce’s higher general gamers since being traded to New England. Nonetheless, he has not persistently carried out to the requirements set as a member of the Pink Sox. Over 4 years, he has slashed .281/.338/.424 with 43 house runs and 206 RBIs. His protection in proper discipline has been greater than serviceable, possessing a .990 fielding share in 2023.
With the 27-year-old, this previous season was about greater than his statistics. He was benched twice, as soon as in June and as soon as in August. Boston’s supervisor Alex Cora sat Verdugo in early June for a scarcity of hustle and once more in early August for allegedly displaying as much as the ballpark late.
Verdugo spoke to The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey about his up-and-down 2023 season and the best way self-discipline towards him was handled.
“I don’t really feel any arduous emotions. I don’t really feel dangerous about it,” Verdugo mentioned. “I feel for me there have been sure issues that might have possibly dealt with a little bit bit in a different way. However on the finish of the day, I sort of have been the frontrunner in loads of classes the place I sort of get aired out or I get a little bit little bit of self-discipline that will get heard about.
“On the similar time I prefer to suppose I’ve thick pores and skin and it simply motivates me,” he continued. “For me, I’ve no arduous emotions towards anyone. The employees. AC. The entrance workplace. I really like all these guys. They’ve all been nice for me, handled me actually, actually good. Perhaps every now and then they’ve some robust love and are arduous on me nevertheless it’s as a result of they actually care about me and wish the perfect for me.”
Verdugo’s second benching of 2023 was a somewhat public affair and induced a drama-filled day on the park on Aug. 5 towards the Toronto Blue Jays. Cora mentioned postgame that “that is in all probability one among my worst days right here on this group” when requested about his determination to sit down Verdugo. A few hours later, MLB.com’s Ian Browne reported on Verdugo’s tardiness that day.
The seven-year MLB veteran spoke of private and household experiences that made 2023 a tough 12 months for him off of the diamond.
“That is positively one of many hardest years that I’ve ever had, and that’s exterior of baseball,” he mentioned. “I’ve had loads of household stuff, household points happening and simply private life issues which have occurred. I’m not right here to color a tragic image. I’m not right here to learn out my sob story, however on the finish of the day, I’m nonetheless a human. I’m nonetheless an individual. When your loved ones is affected, when your loved ones’s not doing the perfect, it weighs on you.”
The outfielder continued, talking extra usually about his 12 months on the plate and the way the Pink Sox fell wanting the playoffs for the second season in a row.
“It was an OK 12 months. I feel it was simply OK,” Verdugo mentioned. “The way in which I see it’s simply, the second half wasn’t the best way I needed it to go. Once I go into the offseason, I’m not gonna be the happiest. I feel there’s sort of two seems to be to the 12 months. There’s a extremely good aspect and there’s a extremely dangerous aspect. I’ll in all probability be centered extra on the struggles and the draw back of it, and simply sort of use that to coach a little bit bit in a different way … the best way I completed and the best way we sort of completed was just a bit dangerous style within the mouth.”
Verdugo is underneath contract in Boston by the 2024 season. The Pink Sox are additionally on the hunt for a brand new president of baseball operations heading into this offseason. ESPN’s Jeff Passan has Verdugo on his ‘commerce candidates’ checklist, he not too long ago instructed DraftKings’ ‘Baseball is Lifeless’ podcast.
Verdugo says he’s hopeful to stay a Pink Sox, however on the similar time acknowledges uncertainty surrounding his future with the membership.
“Hopefully I keep right here with the Pink Sox,” he mentioned. “I really like this group. I’ve made it clear to them. Clearly, getting a brand new GM we’re not too positive the place we’re going with it. I do know on the finish of the day you simply must work arduous, play arduous. If it’s not this workforce, there are 29 different groups.”
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