Boston’s Alex Verdugo has more experience at the corner outfield positions but could be tasked with replacing Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field. Michael Dwyer/AssociatedPress

If the Red Sox need a man for the job – any job – Alex Verdugo is available.

The last time they had a player who exudes this much confidence was probably in 2016, when David Ortiz went on his farewell tour while tearing up the league on his way to an MLB-best 1.021 OPS.

Confidence like this doesn’t come around very often.

Want someone who collected seven assists in just 50 games from the corner outfield positions to come into camp the following year and think he’s ready to play center field at an elite level? He’s your man.

Need a leadoff hitter? Verdugo has his hand in the air. He did it well last year.

He’s a 24-year-old who knows his swing well enough to skip outdoor batting practice and stay in the indoor cage, where he can focus more intently, even if it means less face-to-face time with his new manager, Alex Cora.


It takes confidence, too, to ignore the modern trend to swing for the fences that’s helped so many questionable hitters end up with regular big league jobs. Verdugo is not a fan of that approach. After hitting .308 last year with gap-to-gap power and speed, he’s got a swing that works.

“I think David Ortiz … he came out and said baseball is kind of boring with the homers and strikeouts,” Verdugo said. “And I felt that. I felt that big time. In this day and age, you see people on ESPN, people just want to hype up the glory. They want to hype up the homers, the strikeouts and all that. I think it kind of got away from how the game used to be taught.

“For me, you play hard. You’ve got to be a complete hitter and then power will come. It feels like so many people are reaching for power and reaching for the highlights instead of just really playing and grinding every single game. I’m just going to keep doing what I do.”

Since the day he arrived in Boston as part of the Mookie Betts trade with the Dodgers, Verdugo has shown a complete belief in the player he’s always been. While it first felt like a slight to be shipped out of Los Angeles after he thought he proved himself quite capable there, Verdugo has changed his mind.

“I think things work out for a reason … I think the fit here is better,” he said. “This is where I was supposed to be. And I think it’s just gonna make it even more special when we do get that ring and we win it here.”

Ortiz was an idol of Verdugo’s as a young hitter, and it shows in the way he carries himself.


He’s patient at the plate, often stepping out of the box between pitches, slowing the game down and formulating a plan in his head. He’s not afraid to take a walk. He prefers contact over power, but has more power than one might think.

“I’m a big bat-to-ball guy,” he said. “I know I have power in my swing as well, it’s just a matter of when I want to take my shots, when I want to do that, and I think what’s more beneficial in this part of my career is going to be spraying the ball all over, getting on base, and letting some of these guys behind me kind of drive me in.

“And maybe if I’m on base, I’m adding some holes to the defense and causing some pressure to the pitchers. I’m big on just playing the game, spraying the ball and hitting the ball hard. I don’t really care about that launch angle stuff. I don’t care about all that.”

The biggest challenge for him is likely to be replacing Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field. It’s not Verdugo’s natural position, but he’s played it a lot and thinks he’s just as capable there as he is in left or right.

“It’s funny,because what I learned from (Bradley) is our competitive edge,” Verdugo said. “We competed against each other and that was the biggest thing that helped me. It wasn’t necessarily him telling me, ‘hey, you’ve got to set up this way or run after this ball this way.’ No. It was more of, if he gets this ball and runs it down in the gap, I got the next one. I got to get back on him.”

Verdugo doesn’t care where he plays. He just wants a Gold Glove. He wants awards. He wants a ring. They’d be great symbols of achievement to confirm the confidence he already has.

“I just want to accumulate enough innings in one position to qualify for some certain things, like defensive awards,” he said. “But I don’t care where I’m playing. I’m happy to go out there and compete.”

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