Red Sox

Red Sox OF Alex Verdugo says he's 100 percent healed from back injury, ready to play

Red Sox OF Alex Verdugo says he's 100 percent healed from back injury, ready to play

Alex Verdugo says he's healthy and ready to return to action, provided baseball is played this year.

The Red Sox outfielder, acquired from the Dodgers for MVP Mookie Betts, arrived with a fracture in his back that would have kept him from starting the season in the big leagues. But after an extra month of rest and rehab, Verdugo told reporters on a conference call on Monday that he's healed and 100 percent.

"Whenever the season starts, I think I'll be ready," he said. "Whether it's soon, whether it's a few months down the road, or whatever that may be, I think I'm physically ready."

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With baseball's future up in the air while the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic, Verdugo was asked how long he'll need to prepare to be ready for game action.

"I think what it would take a normal player is what it would take me, maybe even less now, because I'm already doing everything," he said. "I'm staying on my hitting, my running, conditioning, working out, throwing. I've been doing all that. All I've been doing is kind of adding to it. We started off with 20 throws. Then we go to 30, now we're 60, 90 throws a day. Once you start building up all that, your endurance, you start seeing that you're ready."

That's a welcome change from the start of his rehab, when even a handful of throws left him exhausted.

"When I first started rehabbing, after a couple of throws, I felt gassed, I felt fatigued, I felt tired," he said. "Now it's taking 60 throws, 65 throws, and then after that, 'OK, I'm a little bit tired now.' But just working our way up. The more swings we're taking every day, the more weights we're pushing in the weight room. I don't really think it's going to take two or three weeks. It's just going to be whatever the ramp-up period would be for anybody."

There's no question the Red Sox will be leaning heavily on Verdugo to pick up the slack in Betts' absence. The 23-year-old hit .294 with an .817 OPS last year before the back injury sidelined him in August. When healthy, the left-handed hitter has a line drive stroke to all fields, and he also plays with an infectious energy.

"I play 100 percent," he said. "I go all out. I think the good thing is seeing when I was hurt, I was having trouble sleeping because I had pain in my back. I was having trouble moving, bending over, putting socks on. It's like, you go from that to healing yourself and the mental grind of going through physical pain every day, but then you start realizing, the more you push through these boundaries, your body gets better, it adjusts, it adapts and it overcomes any obstacle you put it through.

"For me, that's a good position mentally and physically that I'm not worried about that. I'm ready to go and just play. I know that if I play and feel the way I feel right now, my numbers will be what they always have been. I'll be able to play at 100 percent with no feelings of injury."

How David Price opting out of 2020 season impacts Red Sox, MLB

How David Price opting out of 2020 season impacts Red Sox, MLB

We won't see David Price in Dodger blue this season, after all.

The Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher announced Saturday via Twitter he won't play in Major League Baseball's shortened 2020 season, citing health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dodgers said in a statement they fully support Price's decision.

A handful of other stars already have opted out of the 2020 season -- including Colorado Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond and Washington Nationals teammates Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross -- but Price is the biggest star yet to back out.

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From a business perspective, Price's decision saves the Red Sox some cash: Boston no longer has to pay its $5.7 million share of Price's $11.5 million prorated salary for 2020 after trading him to Los Angeles this offseason, per The Boston Globe's Alex Speier.

The Red Sox were just under the luxury tax for their 2020 payroll prior to the pandemic, and while the 2020 luxury tax in the age of COVID-19 has yet to be determined, per Speier, taking Price off their books gives them some flexibility.

But Price's decision obviously is about much more than money. A handful of players already have tested positive for COVID-19 since teams began training camps July 1, and the 34-year-old veteran is one of several players who have legitimate safety concerns about playing the season.

Price was expected to be a key rotation member for the World Series favorite Dodgers, and his decision to step away might cause others to follow his lead.

MLB, MLBPA announce initial coronavirus testing results

MLB, MLBPA announce initial coronavirus testing results

MLB and the MLB Players Association announced the results of the league's initial round of coronavirus testing on Friday.

According to their joint statement, 31 players and seven staff members tested positive out of the 3,185 total individuals tested (1.2 positivity rate). Nineteen of 30 teams had positive cases.

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While the results are promising, it's important to note there still will be significant health and safety hurdles for the league to avoid a spread when the 60-game season begins later this month. A number of teams, including the Boston Red Sox, started workouts Friday at their home ballparks.

Sox manager Ron Roenicke said Friday the team has some positive COVID-19 cases. Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez did not join the rest of the team for the first day of workouts as he was "around somebody who was sick" and awaiting the results of his own coronavirus test.