All signs are pointing toward Alex Verdugo being ready to serve as the Boston Red Sox’s Opening Day right fielder, something that couldn’t have been said had the season gone off as originally planned.
The new Red Sox outfielder, acquired as the main part of the return going back to Boston in the Mookie Betts/David Price trade, had been dealing with a stress fracture in his back. The injury prevented him from taking part in spring training games before the season was paused due to COVID-19, and it left him with an uncertain timetable.
Verdugo in early May expressed optimism that he would be ready for games whenever baseball was given the green light to return. With spring training now confirmed to begin at the start of July — and regular-season games kicking off the 23rd and 24th — it seems Verdugo should be available.
“With the caveat that we are going to be ramping people up in a fairly short period of time, we want to make sure we do not take any shortcuts with him,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said Wednesday on a conference call with the media, via WEEI.com. “He should be all systems go. The only limitation on him at this point is what we’ve been able to do by virtue of the fact that we’ve been shut down. He’s handled everything great. He should be ready to roll as we get him ramped up. This applies to everybody but it certainly applies to him given what he’s been through. We’re not going to cut corners. But we’re optimistic that he’s going to be ready to roll.”
The 2019 season offered Verdugo his most extended look in the big leagues. The 24-year-old hit .294 with 12 homers and 44 RBIs over 106 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers.