Red Sox

Red Sox' Alex Verdugo addresses assault allegations: 'I would've put a stop to it; I would've done something'

Red Sox' Alex Verdugo addresses assault allegations: 'I would've put a stop to it; I would've done something'

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox acquired Alex Verdugo from the Dodgers despite murky allegations that he may have played a role in failing to prevent a sexual assault, and on Saturday afternoon, Verdugo addressed those claims in both a declaration of innocence and a plea for Red Sox fans to greet him with an open mind.

Discussing the topic for roughly seven minutes, Verdugo repeatedly noted he was cleared of wrongdoing by police in Arizona after the incident in February 2015, which resulted in no charges being filed, but included both allegations of physical and sexual assault.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

"With that incident, there were a lot of reports, and obviously my name being mentioned in the allegations, it hurts," Verdugo said. "It really does hurt. It's hard. I don't want Boston fans or people to judge me on something they've read or seen posted. I know who I am. I know what I believe in. I know my family values. It's extremely hard to have to deal with that. You obviously have a lot of mixed-up views on it. I was cleared of any wrongdoing. That being said, it's a terrible thing that happened. It was in the past. I've learned from it. I've grown from it."

The Washington Post reported last year about the incident, though it didn't name any of the players involved because no charges were filed. A 17-year-old girl accused one player of posting a video to social media of two other girls beating her. She later alleged that another player -- not Verdugo -- had sexually assaulted during a night of partying at a hotel.

The suggestion was then made that Verdugo had not stopped the second assault, though there's no evidence to support he was even aware it had happened.

"I have regrets obviously what had transpired that night with certain events," he said. "There was an investigation and like I said, I was cleared of anything wrongdoing, and if I was around for anything that happened, I would've put a stop to it. I would've helped out. I would've done something. There's a lot of mixed reports about it. I just felt like this was a good time to get my truth out and how I am. It sucks, but we're going to work through and keep getting better and we're just going to keep going on."

Manager Ron Roenicke said that Verdugo addressed the team about the situation when he arrived, and the 23-year-old outfielder explained why.

"You guys [media] are bringing it up, asking about it and talking about it," he said. "You have to do it. You guys have to do your homework and cover everything. That being said, I wanted to come to a new organization, but I didn't want to be a distraction. I'm here to play baseball. I'm a baseball player. I'm here to help the Boston Red Sox win a championship, to go out there every single day and contribute.

"It's something I had to address to let everyone know the truth of it and hear it from my side, to hear the actual what happened. I think at the end of the day, it doesn't catch any of the players by surprise. It's out there. Everybody knows it, and now you can start that healing, the moving on, let's focus on baseball."

Verdugo hopes fans will give him a chance to show that he has matured and grown. He said he intends to give back to the community and says it's the way he was raised "the right way" alongside five sisters and two brothers in Tucson, Arizona.

"I've stayed active in my community with the Dodgers, and showing face and being very out there with the fans and interacting with people," he said. "I want to give back to my community. I want to show people that I am a good guy and I do care a lot about this game, and I have a big heart, and I want people to judge me obviously for the way I play, what I go out there and bring out to the field, the energy, the hard work, the giving it 100 percent. That's what I want to be known for, not something that happened several years back."

Added Verdugo: "I treat women with the utmost respect, that's why having allegations like this hurts, having my name mentioned in it hurts. It does. It does. It puts emotional stress on you. It takes a lot out of you. With that being said, that's in the past. I'd really like to focus on baseball, focus on my next opportunity here on the Boston Red Sox. I'm looking forward to getting started here and letting my play, letting my passion for the game show people who I really am."

 

Judge tosses suit against MLB for sign-stealing scheme, but rips Red Sox and Astros

Judge tosses suit against MLB for sign-stealing scheme, but rips Red Sox and Astros

The lawsuit against Major League Baseball filed by daily fantasy game players, who claimed to be defrauded by the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal, has been dismissed, but not without harsh criticism of the teams by a federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in his ruling blasted the Red Sox and Astros for "shamelessly" breaking both baseball's rules and "the hearts of all true baseball fans."

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

In throwing out the suit brought by five daily fantasy players, Rakoff invoked the New England Patriots "Spygate" scandal from 2007, agreeing with MLB lawyers' contention that rulings in similar suits brought by fans against the NFL after the Patriots were caught illegally taping opponents' defensive signals had set a legal precedent for this suit to be dismissed. 

While the suit charged that the Red Sox and Astros had engaged in consumer fraud that created "corrupt" and "dishonest" fantasy contest for companies such as Draft Kings, Rakoff agreed with previous decisions in the NFL cases that ruled fans should know teams will look for any advantage - even "foul deeds" - to try and win.

From Rakoff's ruling: 

[D]id the initial efforts of those teams, and supposedly of Major League Baseball itself, to conceal these foul deeds from the simple sports bettors who wagered on fantasy baseball create a cognizable legal claim? On the allegations here made, the answer is no.

The Astros' sign-stealing scheme led MLB to fine the team $5 million and the one-year suspensions and subsequent firings of manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow. The Red Sox then parted ways with manager Alex Cora, who, according to MLB's findings, was the mastermind of the scheme as Houston's bench coach in 2017. 

That team won the World Series, as did the 2018 Red Sox, who are accused of using a similar system to steal signs under Cora.

MLB has yet to release a report on the Red Sox allegations. Commissioner Rob Manfred said it has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic but will be released before MLB begins its 2020 season. In comments last month in court an MLB lawyer seem to imply the Red Sox are aware of Manfred's findings and that they disagree with them.

 


 

Say hello to Arizona Red Sox? How MLB's Cactus League could save 2020 season

Say hello to Arizona Red Sox? How MLB's Cactus League could save 2020 season

Nothing says Red Sox home game like iguanas, scorpions, and cacti, but these are desperate times.

Barring millions of instant tests or a miracle cure, COVID-19 will just be a fact of our pent-up, penned-in lives for the foreseeable future.

This makes embarking on the baseball season problematic, since one infection would theoretically sideline an entire team for two weeks, and good luck staying virus-free while flying all over the country. Visiting hot spots would not only increase a player's risk of illness, it would also up the odds of one becoming a vector himself, which is bad for the brand, not to mention public health.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

But what if baseball could maintain some control over its players' whereabouts while limiting travel to a fleet of buses? Could a season happen under these tightly managed circumstances? And if so, where?

It may be a long shot, but the more one considers the alternatives, the more it sounds like the best hope we've got is for MLB to hold its entire season in Arizona.

The logistics are nightmarish regardless, but in a situation this unprecedented, the fewer variables the better. And MLB won't find a higher concentration of acceptable facilities than in the 48th state.

The Cactus League features 10 ballparks that host 15 teams in two months of spring training. Unlike the far-flung Grapefruit League, with teams scattered across Florida's east and west coasts, the Arizona sites are compact.

Tomase: Hindsight 2020 - remember when the Red Sox built around the wrong All-Star?

Parks stretch from Mesa in the southeast to Surprise in the northwest, a drive of only 45 minutes. Everything else lies in between, a constellation of moons tightly orbiting Phoenix.

Decamping to the desert for the duration would eliminate air travel and give the league a chance to closely monitor its players. The challenge is Herculean: hosting roughly 800 players, plus at least that many coaches, staff, families, umpires, and broadcasters without anyone contracting the world's most contagious virus, against which we possess zero natural immunity.

Players would need to be quarantined in league-controlled hotels, tested constantly, and shuttled to and from the park. For such a plan to work, they'd have to sacrifice their most basic freedoms of movement, because a single failed test would grind the season to a halt while at least one team spends two weeks in isolation, potentially triggering a cascade of shutdowns, too (the mere possibility of which prompted the NBA to suspend its season, after all).

Convincing the union to sign off on such draconian restrictions won't be easy, but the alternative may very well be no baseball.

The games would be made-for-TV events without fans. If each ballpark hosted one or two games a day, a regular schedule could be played.

The challenges would be enormous. Do three teams share one clubhouse? Could ballpark and hotel staff be expected to live in isolation as well to avoid infection? How long could players live like prisoners? Will testing capacity ramp up enough to accommodate an entire league? Are the results even reliable? And how would teams keep their facilities germ-free if they're in use all day?

Politics matter, too. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey only belatedly ordered a stay-at-home order on Monday, and it has drawn criticism from the state's mayors as one of America's weakest, with exceptions for "essential" services like golf courses, nail salons, and hotels. If Arizona experiences an outbreak, then this little thought experiment dies on the vine. The same goes for extending the order past its current April 30 expiration and into the summer.

But we're here to ponder best-case scenarios, not fill your heads with more unrelenting negativity. And though the task would be monumental, if there's to be a baseball season, our best bet might be to play it in the desert.