UPDATE: SATURDAY, 12:55 P.M.: Verdugo's injury is a stress fracture in his back. “It has not healed completely," said Red Sox interim manager Ron Roenicke told reporters in Fort Myers. "But it’s in a progression where they’re really liking how it’s coming along. It’s an injury that takes time."
Alex Verdugo has a stress fracture in his back that Red Sox knew about before trade. Availability for start of season seems doubtful, as @alexspeier reported.— John Tomase (@jtomase) February 15, 2020
Just when Red Sox fans thought the Mookie Betts trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers couldn't get any worse, one of the players Boston acquired could be sidelined on Opening Day.
The Boston Globe's Alex Speier reported Thursday that outfielder Alex Verdugo, one of the three players the Dodgers sent the Red Sox in the blockbuster Betts trade, is still dealing with a back injury that cut his 2019 season short. Speier also notes the Red Sox were aware of the injury during trade talks and "did not view the issue as a significant long-term concern when they examined Verdugo’s medical history prior to completing the trade."
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Verdugo was the player in the trade most likely to make an impact at the major league level in 2020. The 23-year-old's ability to hit for average and power made him an appealing trade target on the Dodgers. He batted .294 with 12 home runs, 44 RBI and a .342 on-base percentage in 106 games for the Dodgers before the back injury forced him to miss the last 48 games and the National League Division Series.
If Verdugo is unable to be part of Boston's lineup on Opening Day, it's possible Kevin Pillar could make an early appearance starting in right field alongside center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and left fielder Andrew Benintendi. Pillar reportedly has agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Red Sox.
Opening Day for the Red Sox is March 26 in Toronto, where they'll open a four-game series against the Blue Jays.