Boston Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo, the former star pitcher in high school, may want to pursue pitching professionally after all.
The 25-year-old left-hander excelled on the mound in high school but ultimately decided to pursue a hitting/outfield career after being drafted by the Dodgers in 2014. While it seems like he made a solid choice, the southpaw might want to re-give it a try on the mound.
“100%, yeah,” said Verdugo Saturday when asked if he planned on pitching in the future. “I don’t know if I’ll pitch next year, but definitely by 2023 I want to try to just be a two-way. You know, not an Ohtani where he is starting and all that. I just want to be a reliever. Come in, help the boys out, something like that, but obviously, I know I got a ways to go, and my thing was, give me a year or so to build up my arm strength, long toss and all that, make sure the arm can handle the hard throws and, hey, a couple of blow-out games, let me go out there and pitch. If my stuff is good, if I’m getting swing and miss, you know, why not run with it? If it’s flat, average, and I’m not getting the job done, then, hey, at least I said I tried it.”
The lefty/lefty outfielder admits that most are two-way players in high school ball, but he feels like he stood out among those.
“Everybody was a two-way guy in high school, but I felt like I was a pretty good two-way guy, and I topped out at 97, so I feel like that’s still in there,” Verdugo said. “I just got to build up again and get back on a throwing program and, like I said, it will be fun to try.”
Verdugo, who was dealt to Boston in the Mookie Betts/David Price deal along with Connor Wong and Jeter Downs, has had a fairly strong career just 357 games in.
Through 199 games with the Sox, Verdugo has slashed .294/.355/.426, jacking 19 homers (13 in 2021) to go along with a 112 wRC+, 124 runs, 78 RBI, ten stolen bases, all contributing factors to a 3.6 fWAR.
“I mean, that was what I topped out at,” Verdugo said. “If we were being real, hopefully I’ll sit low to mid 90s, and then if I got to reach back angry or something, we can get that. But I had a curveball, slider, and then I also threw a knuckle-curve, so that would be my repertoire. I would have to play around. I don’t think the curveball would be as good just because I lost some of the sticky, but, hey, I think it would be fun to just try.
If they’re willing to give me an opportunity to do that, I would love to do that,” he added. “The competitor in me just try to maximize what I can do for the team, and as I said, if pitching is a realistic thing, I’m going to pursue it and try to do both.”
Photo of Alex Verdugo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images