Upon getting traded from the Dodgers to the Red Sox in February, Alex Verdugo never could have expected what was in store for him or the 2020 Major League Baseball season. That being Opening Day getting pushed back nearly four months because of a global pandemic.
At the time he first reported to the Fenway South complex in Fort Myers on February 15, it looked as though Verdugo would miss the opening stages of the 2020 season due to a stress fracture in his lower back.
Now though, in part because of the long, pandemic-induced layoff, the young outfielder is just about all systems go as Opening Day 2.0 approaches.
Verdugo, along with the rest of the Red Sox for that matter, have been getting back into playing shape these past few weeks at Summer Camp in Boston, and it has given him the opportunity to get closer, but not too close, to some of his new teammates.
As a matter of fact, one of those new teammates reached out to Verdugo and asked if he would want to share a Fenway Park suite with him during camp. That teammate’s name? Michael Chavis.
When speaking with NESN’s Jahmai Webster on Thursday night’s installment of After Hours, Verdugo went into detail about how that over-the-phone exchange between Chavis and him played out.
“He texted me ‘Hey bro, did you have anyone you wanted to room with?'” Verdugo recounted to Webster. “I was like, ‘Man, I don’t really know anybody…I don’t know…no?’ And he was like, ‘All right, I’m putting your name down for mine.’ I was like, ‘All right, cool, man. It’s all good.’ I think it helps. It’s made this transition easy, cool. We kind of already knew each other. We’ve been messing around with each other, talking hitting and just picking each other’s brains. I know when I’m getting frustrated he’s there to be like, ‘Hey man, I know you can hit, bro. Just relax, you’re good.’ So, it’s cool to have that.”
Seeing as how they were both drafted out of high school in 2014, I would assume that’s how Verdugo and Chavis knew each other a little bit prior to them being on the same major-league ballclub.
Both players are also 24 years of age, and both are coming into a season where they will be competing for at-bats in a rather crowded Red Sox infield and outfield. Fortunately, they can both play multiple positions, as Verdugo is more than capable of moving around the outfield when necessary, while Chavis can play a little bit of first and second base depending on different pitching match-ups.
For Verdugo, coming into a new organization after only knowing one for the last 5 1/2 years of your life has to be somewhat of a daunting task. That being said, it’s encouraging to see that the Arizona native appears to be getting more comfortable with his new club with the help of a fellow 2014 draft class member.
Also, it was quite amusing when, on the subject of not being able to access the home clubhouse at Fenway Park due to COVID-19 concerns, Verdugo said, “We’re so used to having no space, now we have all the space in the world” when referencing the aforementioned suites that have been converted into locker rooms on the pavilion level.