Red Sox

Alex Verdugo explained why there’s ‘Nothing better than hitting a home run in New York’

Verdugo hit his first home run of the season in Saturday's loss to the Yankees.

Alex Verdugo made sure to point to Yankees fans in left after hitting a home run on Saturday.

Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo made a few highlight plays in Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Yankees. He also added a little flare to his play, too.

Verdugo knocked his first homer of the season in the second inning, hitting a two-run shot 382 feet to right field off Yankees starter Luis Severino. The ball was clearly heading for the bleachers once it went off the bat, and Verdugo knew it, too. He explained why he stood in the batter’s box for a few moments to admire his home run.

“This is emotion,” Verdugo said. “Honestly, there’s nothing better than hitting a home run in New York.”

But Verdugo didn’t end his home run celebration there. As he rounded the bases, he waved to Yankees fans in left field and then waved toward his family in the bleachers.

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Verdugo wanted to make sure he “got” the Yankees fans who he was trash-talking with after he hit the home run.

“I mean, left field, just a bunch of dudes were talking, chanting and then talking how they talk with me,” Verdugo said. “When I rounded second, I wanted to make sure they knew, ‘I got you.’ And then in the family section, I’ve got my family here. So obviously rounding third I pointed at them, at my mom, my girl and my kids. Special moment.”

However, when Verdugo went back out to left field in the bottom half of the inning, he said Yankees fans kept going with their trash talk, saying “They just keep going.”

Verdugo just kept going, too. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka’s line drive to left appeared like it was going to drop for a hit. As the ball was dropping, Verdugo dove forward to make the grab, saving a hit.

The play didn’t have any effect on the final score (it was already 4-2 at that point), but it was another highlight play for Verdugo in the field. He made a couple exciting plays in left during the Opening Day, one of which likely saved a run when the game was tied in the fifth inning.

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Verdugo shared he already had that “built-in adrenaline” entering the season-opening series, especially against the Yankees.

“When you play big-league baseball in general, it’s the best thing. I’m blessed to do this as a living and call it my job,” Verdugo said. “Every time I step on the field and do this, I’m a little kid again. I’m just enjoying it and to start it out here in New York, it’s a cool experience.”

Last season, Verdugo actually had a moment where he got a little testy with Yankees fans. During a game in July, a fan threw a baseball at the Red Sox left fielder when he wasn’t looking. Verdugo was so upset by the action that the game was delayed for a few moments while umpires and stadium workers tried to resolve the situation.

Putting that incident aside though, Verdugo said he enjoys trash-talking with Yankees fans. And while Verdugo’s certainly made some impressive plays worthy of respect, he believes his ability to dish-and-take with Yankees fans should earn him their respect.

“I feel like in a sense, they should,” Verdugo said. “They should just know it’s hard to get under my skin, it’s hard to get in my head. The guys, they rag me enough on the team. So whatever [the fans] say, it’s not a big deal. They bring up family, they bring up everybody, and you’ve just got to chuckle and laugh and use it as fuel to make a play or get something going.”

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So far, the Yankees fans have had a bit more ammo to trash talk with in the young season. New York came back multiple times on Opening Day before winning in extras, 6-4. And while Verdugo made some nice plays on Saturday, it was all for naught as Anthony Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton each homered in consecutive games while the Yankees’ bullpen shut down the Red Sox.

Verdugo and the Red Sox will look to avoid getting swept in their opening series for the second straight year on Sunday. Boston will have Tanner Houck on the mound and the Yankees will counter with righty Jordan Montgomery.

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