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Verdugo (back) might miss opener (sources)

@IanMBrowne
February 14, 2020

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Recently acquired outfielder Alex Verdugo arrived at camp on Friday, and Red Sox doctors spent time examining him to gain a better sense of where he’s at with the back injury that cost him the final two months of the 2019 season.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Recently acquired outfielder Alex Verdugo arrived at camp on Friday, and Red Sox doctors spent time examining him to gain a better sense of where he’s at with the back injury that cost him the final two months of the 2019 season.

Two sources told MLB.com on Thursday that Verdugo might miss Opening Day due to the ailment.

Red Sox interim manager Ron Roenicke didn’t think that Friday was the right time to provide a timetable on when Verdugo might be able to play in games.

“I hate to make a comment and then it comes back later that I’m wrong,” Roenicke said. “I think he needs to go through everything with [the medical staff]. I know it’s been quite a while, so we really want to get a good feel for him.

“We don’t know him, which makes a big difference. So they’ll talk to him, figure out where we are and at what point we can start going forward with whatever, whether it’s baseball activities, whether it’s just strength activities. So I’ll know a lot more tomorrow.”

Verdugo endured back and oblique soreness that ended his 2019 season with the Dodgers on Aug. 4. The left-handed hitter initially tweaked his back on the turf of Tropicana Field on May 22, and it bothered him on and off for the rest of the season.

The Red Sox, a source confirmed, were fully aware when they made the blockbuster trade with the Dodgers that Verdugo’s availability for the start of the season would be in question.

Boston's position players are due into camp by Sunday and the first full-squad workout is on Monday.

The way the Red Sox are looking at it, the 23-year-old Verdugo is still in a return-to-play progression and they will evaluate his timetable as Spring Training progresses. If it needs to, Boston is prepared to give Verdugo a slow ramp-up.

With veteran Kevin Pillar close to signing a one-year, $4.25 million deal with the Sox -- he underwent his physical on Friday -- Roenicke has a proven player to put into the lineup if Verdugo misses time.

Earlier this week, the Red Sox finalized the trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers in exchange for Verdugo and two prospects -- Jeter Downs and Connor Wong.

In what would have been his first full season in the Majors last season if not for the injury, Verdugo slashed .294/.342/.475 with 12 homers and 44 RBIs in 106 games.

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