After not starting each of his team’s last two games, Alex Verdugo is back in the Red Sox’ lineup for their series finale against the Mets at Citi Field on Wednesday night.
The 24-year-old gets the start in right field — alongside center fielder Kiké Hernández and left fielder J.D. Martinez — and will bat out of the two-hole, per usual.
Despite not starting Sunday’s game against the Mariners or Tuesday’s contest against the Mets, Verdugo was used as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning of Boston’s 2-1 win over New York.
Verdugo’s brief absence stems from a hamstring cramp he suffered in the fourth inning of Saturday’s loss to Seattle at Fenway Park.
On a line drive off the bat of Sam Haggerty, Verdugo ran in from center field to catch the ball on what looked like a pretty routine play.
Upon catching the ball, though, the young outfielder appeared to be in some discomfort as he gripped the back of his left leg while going back to his position.
He was able to finish Sunday’s game — and even went 2-for-4 with a double — but had not been able to return to Boston’s starting lineup until Wednesday.
“It was actually a very weird play,” Verdugo recalled over the weekend. “Just shuffled my feet, felt something grab a little bit, and just had to make sure that I kept that in mind and loosened it up throughout the game. But no problem.”
The Red Sox will be matched up against an extremely tough opponent in Verdugo’s return to the lineup in the form of Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom.
Through four starts this season, the two-time Cy Young Award winner has posted a miniscule 0.31 ERA and .426 OPS against to go along with a 50:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 29 innings pitched.
In three career starts against the Red Sox, deGrom owns a lifetime 3.32 ERA and .513 OPS against over 19 total innings of work. His most recent start against Boston came last July, an outing in which he yielded two runs over six innings in a game the Mets lost by a final score of 6-5.
Verdugo, meanwhile, has faced off against deGrom six times before in his young career and is 0-for-6 against him.
On the 2021 campaign as a whole, the left-handed hitter comes into play Wednesday sporting a .325/.371/.538 slash line to go along with three home runs and 13 RBI through 22 games and 89 plate appearances.
Here is how the rest of the 15-9 Red Sox will be lining up against deGrom and the 9-9 Mets:
First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Alex Verdugo: David Berding/Getty Images)