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Verdugo, McHugh making progress in recovery

@IanMBrowne
April 14, 2020

BOSTON -- As best as the Red Sox can tell under these challenging circumstances, outfielder Alex Verdugo is making significant progress in his recovery from a stress fracture in his back. Interim manager Ron Roenicke didn’t rule out Verdugo being able to start the season on the active roster, depending

BOSTON -- As best as the Red Sox can tell under these challenging circumstances, outfielder Alex Verdugo is making significant progress in his recovery from a stress fracture in his back.

Interim manager Ron Roenicke didn’t rule out Verdugo being able to start the season on the active roster, depending on when that is.

“I think by the time we get back and train again, if we’re going to be able to do it, I would think he’s going to be able to fit in along with the other guys and maybe be ready for us,” Roenicke said in a Zoom call with reporters on Tuesday.

Major League Baseball remains on indefinite shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Verdugo, the key player Boston acquired in the blockbuster trade for Mookie Betts, remains in Fort Myers, Fla., though the club’s Spring Training facility has been shut down for the last couple of weeks due a Minor League player testing positive for COVID-19.

“He is swinging and doing all the things he needs to do,” Roenicke said. “He can take full swings, he can run fine, his throwing was really getting good.”

Under normal circumstances, Verdugo would have undergone another MRI by now to gauge how much the fracture has healed since he last had images taken in February.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ve been able to take him back in there to have an MRI done to see if that thing has healed completely, and I don’t know if we need to,” Roenicke said. “I haven’t talked to [director of medical services Brad Pearson] about that.”

Another player on the mend is righty Collin McHugh, who is coming back from a flexor strain in his throwing elbow that he suffered last season with the Astros.

If the season had started on time, he would have missed at least a few weeks. Now, there’s a chance he will be in the bullpen or the rotation by the time the 2020 season eventually starts.

“They found him a PT in Atlanta where his home is,” Roenicke said. “He is figuring out with that PT how far along he is and where he needs to go and then relaying that back to Brad and [senior physical therapist Jamie Creps] and trying to figure out all that.”

With Chris Sale out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, McHugh could factor in as an important part of the pitching staff -- be it as a fifth starter or an opener.

“It’s still in the early stages of building up arm strength and a throwing program,” said Red Sox pitching coach Dave Bush. “With the season on hold right now, there’s no urgency immediately, other than to continue following the plan that he had a couple of months ago when we signed him.

“The goal would be to have him ready as soon as we can, and it may be end up being that it’s around the same time we start playing if things all work out. But I don’t know for sure other than he’s still going through his program and not much has changed in the short term.”

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.