As he is about to embark on his first season with his new team, Alex Verdugo will not be starting for the Red Sox on Opening Day.
With left-hander Tommy Milone getting the start for Baltimore opposite Nathan Eovaldi on Friday night, the 24-year-old outfielder was left out of the Sox’ starting lineup by manager Ron Roenicke in favor of right-handed hitting outfielder Kevin Pillar.
When speaking with reporters prior to Friday’s season opener against the Orioles at Fenway Park, Roenicke addressed this decision, saying that he called Verdugo earlier in the day to let him know that he was not starting against the left-handed starter.
“He reassured me that he does hit left-handers well,” Roenicke said via Zoom in regards to Verdugo’s response. As a reverse splits guy, that is indeed true for the left-handed hitter.
In 106 games played for the Dodgers last season, the Arizona native racked up 109 plate appearances against southpaws. Over the course of those 109 PAs, he slashed .327/.358/.485 with two home runs, nine RBI, and a 121 wRC+. Against right-handed pitching, his OPS dropped by 36 points and his wRC+ dropped by 10 points over 268 plate appearances.
Earlier this month, Verdugo insisted that he wanted to be an everyday player with the Red Sox, but he also acknowledged that he could start the season in a platoon role with his new team.
“I want to play and I want to be a starter,” he said during one of his Summer Camp media sessions. “That’s what everybody comes into the big leagues for. That’s what everybody wants to be. So I want to play every day. But, if they want to do what they have to do, then I’ll follow and I’ll play as hard as I can.”
Perhaps we’ll see Verdugo make his first start with the Red Sox on Saturday afternoon, when right-hander Alex Cobb will be taking the mound for the O’s.