Verdugo wants to 'see some fire, some fight for the guys' from his manager

December 22nd, 2023

As settles into his new life on the other side of baseball’s biggest rivalry, he’s been open about having complicated feelings for both his former team and his new one.

In particular, Verdugo has appeared to allude to issues that arose between him and Red Sox manager Alex Cora during his 2023 season in Boston.

“I want to prove a lot of these ‘he said, she said’ things wrong,” Verdugo said while speaking to reporters Thursday. “We’re all people, man. We’re all humans. Yeah, we make mistakes, but how do we learn from it and how do we bounce back from it? How much stronger do we get from that?”

The 27-year-old was benched by Cora on two separate occasions this past season, first for a lack of hustle on the bases in June and then for being late to the ballpark ahead of a home game in August. Cora didn't hold back in his postgame comments following the second incident, telling reporters that the day was "one of his worst" in the Red Sox's organization.

Verdugo expressed excitement to work with Yankees skipper Aaron Boone.

“I’m very excited to work with Aaron,’’ Verdugo said. “I’ve seen the way he has his players’ backs. The one that really [sticks out] to me is, ‘These guys are savages!’ He’s yelling at the umpire. That’s something I want to see out of my [manager], man. I want to see some fire, some fight for the guys. Instead of airing people out, have their backs.”

Verdugo’s comments didn’t come without pushback; retired Red Sox pitcher and current NESN analyst Jonathan Papelbon, who also spent four seasons in Boston with Cora during his playing career, came out Friday morning in strong support of his former teammate, stating via a post on social media that Cora “has his players and teammates’ backs more than anyone in the game.”

If nothing else, a fittingly heated addition to an age-old rivalry.