There seems to be no love lost between Alex Verdugo and the Red Sox.
Granted, the 27-year-old outfielder is now predisposed to dislike Boston — considering that he’ll don pinstripes during the upcoming 2024 season.
But after the Red Sox opted to trade Verdugo to the Yankees earlier this month, the outspoken Verdugo was candid about his move down to the Bronx, as well as the current state of his former team.
“The genuine reaction was, you know, mad. I was hot,” Verdugo said of getting traded during his first Zoom call with New York reporters on Thursday. “I was like, ‘Man, they really sent me to the rivals, the Yankees,’ this, that. Then after about a day, I started sitting back, thinking, just reminiscing about how this year went with the Red Sox, kind of everything that was going on… I shaved right away, just so I could feel like I’m in it. I work out every day with a Yankee hat, to see how it looks on me, how it feels. Like I said before, fresh start and it feels good.
“I just want to go to the organization. I just want to work hard and I want to prove, maybe, a lot of ‘he said, she said’ things wrong. I want to just show them, we’re all people, man, we’re all human. Yeah, we make mistakes. But how do we learn from them and bounce back from them and how much stronger do we get from that. I’m excited for this new fresh start.”
Arguably the top return in Boston’s franchise-altering trade that sent Mookie Betts to the Dodgers in February 2020, Verdugo had his fair share of peaks and valleys with Boston.
Over four seasons with Boston, Verdugo batted .281/.338/.424 with a .761 OPS and 43 homers while also finishing second in the 2023 AL Gold Glove voting among right fielders.
But the Red Sox struggled to put together a winning team during Verdugo’s extended tenure here, making the postseason just once over those four years.
“I thought they were in a rebuilding process,” Verdugo said of the Red Sox, as transcribed by Julian McWilliams of The Boston Globe. “I thought Chaim Bloom did a really good job of rebuilding the farm system, getting guys in, and getting young, fresh people in. And I think that’s ideally what the goal was. I think they used him [as a scapegoat] when they weren’t winning to get rid of him.”
Amid another last-place finish in 2023, Verdugo found himself in Alex Cora’s doghouse on several occasions.
Cora put Verdugo on the pine in early June for a lack of hustle and benched him again in early August for allegedly showing up to the ballpark late.
After sitting Verdugo in August, Cora offered up one of his harshest postgame press conferences as a Red Sox manager.
“I’m very disappointed,” Cora said, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. “This is probably one of my worst days here in this organization. Today we took a step back. I feel responsible because I’m the leader of this team… “Today we took a step back as a team. We have to make sure everybody’s available every single day here for us to get to wherever we’re going to go and that wasn’t the case.”
When speaking of Yankees manager Aaron Boone and his defense of his players, Verdugo seemed to take a slight dig at Cora and his public criticism of the then-Sox outfielder last summer.
“I’m very excited to work with Aaron,’’ Verdugo said. “I’ve seen the way he has his players’ backs. The one that really [sticks out] to me is ‘these guys are savages!’ He’s yelling at the umpire. That’s something I want to see out of my [manager], man. I want to see some fire, some fight for the guys. Instead of airing people out, have their backs.”
Verdugo and the Yankees won’t play the Red Sox until June 14th next season, with the longtime rivals scheduled to play 13 times over the final four months of the 2024 campaign.
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