Alex Verdugo hugs Cora, hurts Red Sox in a stinging reminder of trade folly

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Alex Verdugo, traded from the Red Sox to the Yankees in December, has come to embrace his new team but with a clear message reminding their mistake in letting him go. Initially distressed by the move, the outfielder walked into Fenway Park as a visitor for the first time on Friday, expressing his contentment with being part of the AL East-leading New York Yankees.

“It was pure adrenaline, man. Just fired up,” the Yankees OF said after the game. “To put it out of the ballpark and give us an early lead was big. I let a little yell out around first, and when I saw my dugout going crazy, all the guys barking, I lost it again.”

The player, who spent four years with the Boston Red Sox, had marked this weekend’s series on his calendar, describing the return as both “special” and “weird.” Despite the initial shock of the trade, Alex Verdugo now sees it as a beneficial turn in his career. He backed it with action.

Reflecting on the transition, Alex Verdugo remarked that the trade happened for a reason and, in hindsight, it has been positive for him. He shared these sentiments on Friday afternoon before contributing significantly to the Yankees’ 8-1 victory over the Red Sox, hitting a two-run homer in the first inning and going 3-for-5 with four RBI for the game.

“I feel like this trade happened for a reason,” he said. “Looking back at it, it was better for me.”

Yankees' Alex Verdugo-celebrates after hitting a home run against the Red Sox in Boston on June 14, 2024.

Alex Verdugo’s trade a blunder by Red Sox

The Yankees acquired Alex Verdugo in exchange for reliever Greg Weissert and minor league pitchers Richard Fitts and Nicholas Judice. Since joining the Yankees, he has been instrumental in their strong season start.

While Alex Verdugo’s tenure with the Red Sox concluded under strained circumstances, particularly as the centerpiece of the return package for Mookie Betts, he has smoothly transitioned into the Yankees’ clubhouse.

Alex Verdugo expressed that he can be his authentic self and showcase his energy on and off the field with the Yankees. According to him, his new teammates, familiar with him from years of competition, are now experiencing his full range of abilities and enthusiasm. He believes his energy is well-received, and he is committed to being his genuine self with the Yankees.

“I’m just able to be myself,” he said. “I’m able to show the guys — these guys, they’ve played against me for years and they understand what I bring when I’m out there between the lines. Now they’re seeing it all the way around. I think they just really like the energy that I bring. I’m just 100 percent me.”

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone articulated that the Yankees uphold a certain standard and expectation but also value the individuality of Alex Verdugo.

Describing Alex Verdugo as funny with an edge, Boone highlighted how well the outfielder has fit into the team. The skipper, along with Judge and Anthony Rizzo, disclosed they had been advocating for Alex Verdugo’s acquisition for years. This knowledge helped the player quickly adjust and make offensive and defensive contributions.

“There’s no secret that this was a big series for me,” Alex Verdugo said. “I’ve just got to keep going day by day. We’ve got to go out there and do it again tomorrow.”

New York Yankees’ Alex Verdugo celebrates his two-run home run, next to Boston Red Sox catcher Connor Wong during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, June 14, 2024, in Boston.
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Alex Verdugo, Alex Cora patch up

In his initial media interaction as a Yankee, Alex Verdugo stirred some attention by commenting on Boone’s supportive management style. He noted, “Instead of airing people out, have their backs,” contrasting his new environment with his experience in Boston. This remark spotlighted the cultural differences between the two teams and Alex Verdugo’s smooth transition to the Yankees.

Alex Verdugo’s comments about Boone supporting his players sparked speculation about a rift with Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who benched him twice last season by Cora for lack of hustle and tardiness. However, both Alex Verdugo and Cora addressed the issue on Friday, asserting that any past conflicts are behind them.

Cora described the Yankees outfielder as a “good kid” and dismissed the controversy, saying it has been blown out of proportion. He emphasized their good relationship. Alex Verdugo, who shared a hug with Cora during batting practice, concurred, blaming the media for sensationalizing their interactions.

Alex Verdugo acknowledged minor disagreements with Cora but stressed that such differences are natural and not indicative of a deeper issue. He expressed his respect for Cora and frustration with the media’s focus on their relationship, insisting that they can reconcile and communicate as adults.

When asked about his reception at Fenway Park for his first game back as a Yankee, Alex Verdugo grinned and said, “Like a Yankee.” This response underscored the fierce rivalry between the Yankees and the Red Sox and the significance of his return to Boston as a member of their historic rivals. His response to the boos with his bat validates his determination.

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