Outfielder Alex Verdugo might not have been ready for the start of the 2020 MLB season before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the league to delay Opening Day, which was originally scheduled for March 27. Verdugo had been nursing a back injury in the spring and his status for Boston's opener versus the Toronto Blue Jays was in doubt.
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But with the shortened 60-game season now set to begin July 23/24, Verdugo is expected to be in the Red Sox lineup from the get-go.
Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom provided a positive health update on the 24-year-old outfielder during a Zoom call with reporters Wednesday night.
#RedSox outfielder Alex Verdugo, who came to Boston in the Mookie Betts trade, is "all systems go" according to Chaim Bloom. He was rehabbing his back during Spring Training.
— Raul Martinez (@RaulNBCBoston) June 24, 2020
If the Red Sox are going to contend for a postseason berth in the shortened regular season, they might have to get there with an offensive onslaught. Boston has been one of the best hitting teams over the last few years, featuring a lineup that ranked No. 4 in runs scored and No. 1 in hits among American League teams in 2019.
Verdugo, if healthy, likely will be an important bat in the Red Sox lineup. He hit .294 with 12 home runs, 44 RBI, 101 hits and 43 runs scored in 106 games with the Dodgers last season.
The Red Sox will need multiple players to hit at a higher level in order to replace an MVP-caliber player like Betts, and Verdugo should be a key part of that effort.