Alex Verdugo wants to become a two-way player for the Boston Red Sox.
It sounds crazy, especially with the 23-year-old rehabbing a back injury during spring training, but Verdugo recently revealed to The Athletic’s Chad Jennings he someday would like to pitch in addition to playing the outfield.
You see, Verdugo was one of the top pitching prospects in the 2014 draft class before the Los Angeles Dodgers selected him in the second round and subsequently groomed him as a position player given his offensive upside.
“I would be like a little kid again,” Verdugo told Jennings of the possibility. “Just playing ball again. Driving to the games or the tournaments, that was cool coming out of center field to go throw one inning … just try to freakin’ blow up the doors, and after that, I go back to center and we have another guy come in.”
Of course, this seems like a long shot. And Verdugo is well aware he needs to prove he can stay healthy for a full major league season as an outfielder before the Red Sox even will entertain the thought of him also pitching.
But there was a time when some scouts were split on whether Verdugo would be a pitcher or a position player in the majors — he reportedly topped out around 93-94 mph with a good curveball — and he’s not giving up the dream of someday returning to the mound, especially with big league organizations seemingly coming around on the concept of two-way players.
“Once you’re in pro ball, (people said) no more two-ways,” Verdugo told Jennings. “Then it was like, a couple of guys came in doing two-way, and I’m like, ‘Maaaannnn! Dude, I could do that!’ ”
“Any time you go 0-for-3 or 0-for-4 and then, just come in one inning and just blow up hitters?” he added. “That’s how you get out your steam. That’s how you get out your anger. Not like throwing or slamming anything. It’s just like, dude, let me go strike somebody out. And if I get racked, too, on the mound, that’s a tough day at the office! That’s a bad day, dude!”
The Red Sox certainly didn’t acquire Verdugo from the Dodgers as part of the Mookie Betts blockbuster with an eye toward him pitching anytime soon. But hey, it’s nice to have goals, and Verdugo clearly wants to make as much of an impact as possible moving forward.