Enmanuel Valdez’s First Career Home Run With Red Sox Has Extra Meaning

Valdez delivered in a key situation


May 2, 2023

Enmanuel Valdez couldn’t contain his excitement as he rounded first base, throwing his fist into the air in exultation.

There was a big reason behind Valdez’s enthusiasm as it was the first time the Red Sox prospect ever circled the bases in effortless fashion at the big league level.

While Alex Verdugo played the hero yet again Monday night in a 6-5 walk-off win for the Red Sox over the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park, the 24-year-old Valdez had his own special moment three innings earlier when he belted the first home run of his Major League Baseball career to break a 3-3 deadlock at the time.

“Of course, it feels great,” Valdez told reporters through a translator, as seen on NESN postgame coverage. “I’m very happy because this moment happened with the team I always wanted to play for. The Boston Red Sox has always been my team since I was a small kid. So, to be able to do that, my first big league homer in a game with them and also to give the lead for the team, there was a lot of emotions going through my mind.”

The at-bat against Blue Jays starting pitcher Jose Berrios in the bottom of the sixth started off wrong for Valdez, who was called for a pitch clock violation. But he didn’t let that derail what was to come.

“I just laugh because when it was nine seconds I looked at the umpire and he looked at me,” Valdez said. “But I didn’t lose my focus. I just tried to stay in mindset to try to get a good pitch to hit.”

Two pitches after the violation, the 5-foot-8, 191-pound second baseman launched Berrios’ offering high and deep to center field. Valdez, who is in his second stint with the Red Sox this season as he was recalled when Yu Chang headed to the injured list, kept his eyes on the ball as he jogged to first base and then watched it land in the seats 427 feet from where it first started. Valdez got the ball back, too, and plans to give the keepsake to his family.

The home run came in the seventh game of Valdez’s big league career and Red Sox manager Alex Cora sure wasn’t surprised to see him connect on one.

“Enmanuel, he can hit. He can hit, man,” Cora told reporters, as seen on NESN postgame coverage. “It’s fun to watch this little guy hit bombs like that. He looks for his pitches and he puts good swings on it.”

Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images
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