Alex Verdugo says he's healthy and ready to return to action, provided baseball is played this year.
The Red Sox outfielder, acquired from the Dodgers for MVP Mookie Betts, arrived with a fracture in his back that would have kept him from starting the season in the big leagues. But after an extra month of rest and rehab, Verdugo told reporters on a conference call on Monday that he's healed and 100 percent.
"Whenever the season starts, I think I'll be ready," he said. "Whether it's soon, whether it's a few months down the road, or whatever that may be, I think I'm physically ready."
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With baseball's future up in the air while the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic, Verdugo was asked how long he'll need to prepare to be ready for game action.
"I think what it would take a normal player is what it would take me, maybe even less now, because I'm already doing everything," he said. "I'm staying on my hitting, my running, conditioning, working out, throwing. I've been doing all that. All I've been doing is kind of adding to it. We started off with 20 throws. Then we go to 30, now we're 60, 90 throws a day. Once you start building up all that, your endurance, you start seeing that you're ready."
That's a welcome change from the start of his rehab, when even a handful of throws left him exhausted.
"When I first started rehabbing, after a couple of throws, I felt gassed, I felt fatigued, I felt tired," he said. "Now it's taking 60 throws, 65 throws, and then after that, 'OK, I'm a little bit tired now.' But just working our way up. The more swings we're taking every day, the more weights we're pushing in the weight room. I don't really think it's going to take two or three weeks. It's just going to be whatever the ramp-up period would be for anybody."
There's no question the Red Sox will be leaning heavily on Verdugo to pick up the slack in Betts' absence. The 23-year-old hit .294 with an .817 OPS last year before the back injury sidelined him in August. When healthy, the left-handed hitter has a line drive stroke to all fields, and he also plays with an infectious energy.
"I play 100 percent," he said. "I go all out. I think the good thing is seeing when I was hurt, I was having trouble sleeping because I had pain in my back. I was having trouble moving, bending over, putting socks on. It's like, you go from that to healing yourself and the mental grind of going through physical pain every day, but then you start realizing, the more you push through these boundaries, your body gets better, it adjusts, it adapts and it overcomes any obstacle you put it through.
"For me, that's a good position mentally and physically that I'm not worried about that. I'm ready to go and just play. I know that if I play and feel the way I feel right now, my numbers will be what they always have been. I'll be able to play at 100 percent with no feelings of injury."