Alex Verdugo takes a swipe at Red Sox, targets former manager

The Yankees acquired Alex Verdugo in a trade from Boston on Dec 5, 2023.
Michael Bennington
Friday December 22, 2023

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Following his arrival in the Bronx, Alex Verdugo has laid bare his discontent against the Red Sox. The Yankees acquired him in a trade with Boston on December 5. The outfielder drew fan attention following his shaved face and he met the press for the first time on Thursday.

Certainly, the 27-year-old outfielder now harbors some disfavor toward Boston. Given that Alex Verdugo will be wearing the iconic pinstripes, the bete noire of Boston fans, in the upcoming 2024 season, the strained relationship assumes greater significance.

Following the Red Sox’s decision to trade Alex Verdugo to the Yankees earlier this month, the outspoken player openly shared his thoughts on the transition to the Bronx and offered candid remarks about the current status of his former team.

The strained relationship: Alex Verdugo vs. Red Sox

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Alex Verdugo reflected on his initial response to the trade during his first Zoom call with New York reporters. He admitted feeling genuinely upset and frustrated, describing his initial reaction as “mad” and expressing disbelief at being traded to the Yankees, the rivals of his former team. However, after about a day, he began to reconsider, reflecting on his time with the Red Sox and everything that transpired during that year.

He mentioned shaving right away to symbolize embracing the change and feeling immersed in the new environment. Alex Verdugo also shared that he works out daily while wearing a Yankees hat, aiming to familiarize himself with the team’s aesthetic and atmosphere. He reiterated his perspective of a fresh start and the positive feelings it brings.

Alex Verdugo ranted against the Red Sox for trading him to their intense rivals.

“The genuine reaction was, you know, mad. I was hot,” he told. “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…”

Certainly, a key component in the pivotal trade that reshaped Boston’s fortunes, shipping Mookie Betts to the Dodgers in February 2020, Alex Verdugo experienced both successes and challenges with the Red Sox.

Throughout his four seasons in Boston, Alex Verdugo posted a batting line of .281/.338/.424 with a .761 OPS, tallying 43 home runs. Notably, he secured a second-place finish in the 2023 AL Gold Glove voting among right-fielders. Despite his contributions, the Red Sox faced difficulties in assembling a competitive team during his extended stay, managing to reach the postseason only once in those four years.

Alex Verdugo admitted that the Boston team was in a rebuilding phase, acknowledging Chaim Bloom’s efforts in bolstering the farm system and bringing in young and talented individuals. He expressed the belief that the team used someone, possibly referring to a specific individual, as a scapegoat when the team wasn’t achieving success, ultimately letting them go.

Verdugo takes a swipe at former manager

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Reports surfaced indicating that Verdugo’s time with Boston and manager Alex Cora soured, leading to his benching after allegedly arriving late for a home game—a culmination of earlier concerns about his effort on the field.

Amid another disappointing last-place outcome in 2023, Alex Verdugo faced disapproval from Alex Cora on multiple occasions.

Cora sidelined him in early June, citing a perceived lack of hustle, and benched him once more in early August, accusing him of arriving late to the ballpark. Following the August benching, Cora delivered one of his most critical postgame press conferences during his tenure as the Red Sox manager.

The Yankees acquired Alex Verdugo in a trade from Boston on Dec 5, 2023.
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When discussing Yankees manager Aaron Boone and his supportive stance towards his players, Alex Verdugo appeared to subtly reference Cora and the public criticisms he faced from the former Red Sox outfielder last summer.

Alex Verdugo mentioned that veteran players extended their support and guided him during this challenging period. He attributes part of the issue to the overall struggles of the team during a challenging season in Boston.

Alex Verdugo conveyed his enthusiasm about collaborating with Boone, emphasizing his admiration for Aaron’s supportive nature towards his players. He specifically recalled an instance where Aaron passionately defended his team, citing the memorable phrase “these guys are savages!” directed at an umpire. Alex Verdugo expressed a desire for a manager who displays such fervor and stands up for the team, emphasizing the importance of a leader who supports and stands by the players rather than publicly criticizing them, illustrating a sense of loyalty and support.

He anticipates a smooth relationship with Aaron Boone in the Bronx, without any foreseeable problems. Alex Verdugo expressed admiration for the way the manager supports his players, emphasizing the desire to witness passion and support rather than public criticism. He expressed eagerness for a new beginning, aiming to shift the prevailing story or perception surrounding the team.

Ready for the battle

Aaron Judge, Juan Soto, and Alex Verdugo of the New York Yankees
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Alex Verdugo and the Yankees are set to face the Red Sox for the first time next season on June 14th, and the age-old rivals are slated to meet 13 times during the last four months of the 2024 campaign. The southpaw is eager to contribute to the Yankees’ victory march.

The outfielder expressed his excitement for the new chapter in such a manner that he revealed he shaved off the beard he had maintained since high school shortly after finalizing the deal.

According to him, “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.”

“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.

Alex Verdugo adds a left-handed presence to Yankee Stadium, akin to Juan Soto, and believes that his playing style is well-suited for the atmosphere of New York. He expressed a belief that when New York fans witness his consistent hard work and dedication on the field, they will come to appreciate his style of play and the effort he puts in every day.

Alex Verdugo discussed his role within the team, expressing a willingness to contribute by focusing on getting on base, saving runs, and offering assistance in any possible way.

Since transitioning to a full-time player in 2020, Alex Verdugo has shown consistency in offensive performance, though he hasn’t quite met the expectations set when he was part of the Red Sox’s acquisition from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts trade.

His track record at Yankee Stadium includes a .252/.299/.437 slash line in the Bronx, featuring five home runs, seven doubles, and 12 RBI over 31 games. Last season with the Sox, Alex Verdugo recorded a .264/.324/.421 line in 142 games. Over his career, Verdugo holds a .281/.337/.428 batting line, accumulating 152 doubles, 57 home runs, and 255 RBI across 651 games.

The player mentioned his daily routine of exercising while wearing a Yankees hat to familiarize himself with the team’s identity. Alex Verdugo conveyed his determination to join the organization and put in hard work. He aimed to challenge and disprove any rumors or criticisms surrounding him and emphasized the importance of learning from mistakes.

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