When the Boston Red Sox acquired Alex Verdugo from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Mookie Betts and David Price trade, it was understood the outfielder wouldn’t be ready for Opening Day.
Verdugo was recovering from a stress fracture in his lower back and didn’t even start swinging a bat until March.
But that was before a global pandemic pushed off the start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season indefinitely.
And with all that time to nurse his rehabilitation, the coronavirus was kind of a blessing in disguise for Verdugo.
“In a weird way, this whole COVID, all that, the extended time that it took, has done my body physically wonders,” Verdugo on Saturday told reporters, via MassLive’s Chris Smith.
“Just getting through all the stuff. I think I could have been ready to play sooner. But it’s just one of those things, you take a certain amount of swings and it’s like, ‘All right, I still feel good but how sore am I after that?’ So that’s the biggest thing I’ve kind of noticed throughout the extra time I’ve had is just that I’m getting my body extra endurance.”
Verdugo feels so healthy, in fact, that he was ready to face Nathan Eovaldi and his 99 mph fastballs in a simulated game at Fenway Park.
“I told the manager (Ron Roenicke) I wanted to see velo,” Verdugo said. “Probably the first time I’ve seen any type of pitching for 10 months or something like that. It just so happened Nathan was going out there on the bump. Let’s say that yeah, I got welcomed real quick to good, old 99, 98 (mph). But the biggest thing for me today was just to kind of see the velo, see it out of his hand. See one of the most elite, best pitchers and really go from there. I took a full swing. I swung and missed and had no pain, no discomfort. So that was really reassuring.”
MLB will begin its shortened 60-game season July 23.