Verdugo talks great fit with Yankees, who let the Dawgs out

May 20th, 2024

In a recent interview with, Yankees outfielder Alex Verdugo touched on a wide range of topics, from his experience in pinstripes to his respect for teammate Aaron Judge. You have always been a fun-loving guy, but I feel this season is different for you in a good way. True?

Alex Verdugo: I really get to be myself. … I’ve gravitated towards [my teammates]. I feel like they have gravitated towards me. It’s one of those things where it feels good. It feels good to be able to be yourself and be appreciated. All the guys know, I’m rooting for them. … Ideally, all we want to do is win. We just have a group where everybody cares about each other. It makes it that much more special. Besides winning, what have the Yankees done to make this a happy place for you?

Verdugo: It starts with Captain [Judge]. Just the way he goes about it. You don’t get the C on your chest for nothing. For me, playing against him, you know about the player. You know how good he is, what he does on the field. But seeing him every day in the clubhouse, outside of baseball – all tied in – he is the full package. He cares about every one of his teammates. He cares about guys who have more service time than him, guys who have a day of service time and guys who have no service time. He’ll give his time to everybody. When you have that guy as your captain … that is the difference maker. He is really in touch with the chemistry of the clubhouse and has an understanding of how far that goes. I think it really stems down from 99 with how the chemistry and how the boys are able to gravitate towards each other. It’s funny you mentioned Judge. When I see you play alongside Judge and Juan Soto, I think your face says it all. You look extremely happy. How much do you enjoy playing alongside those two guys?

Verdugo: I love it. … For me to be out there with those guys, it’s a lot of fun. We are always rooting for each other. We are always messing with each other. … That’s the biggest thing. We are able to lock it in, be serious when we need to. It has been special this year to be around those guys -- I mean everybody. I feel like you can be yourself. You feel like you can truly say whatever comes to mind and you are not getting judged for it or backlash for it. … It makes baseball a lot of fun. You played in some big cities like Los Angeles and Boston. Did you feel you weren’t yourself there?

Verdugo: I was. Obviously, when I was with the Dodgers, I came up and I was a little bit too myself as I was listening to a lot of loud music … in the clubhouse, doing things a rookie shouldn’t be doing too much in a Major League clubhouse. … I came on a little too strong. And then my Red Sox years, I really loved the team. The guys, I really enjoyed hanging out with them.

I think [in New York], … I’m not trying to step on anybody’s toes but see what those guys are doing and maybe adjust my routine to kind of fit in with what they are doing. You obviously see Giancarlo [Stanton], Judge, Soto, DJ [LeMahieu] -- all these guys that have had so many years in the big leagues and have been successful. What is their routine? What is their recovery? Maybe that can help me. I’m very humble here, but I’m also good to talk shop with all the guys. It doesn’t matter if you are a rookie or you are a vet, I can talk to everybody and anybody. You have become a popular figure in New York, especially with the fans in left field. You even call your teammates dawgs. How do you feel about your popularity?

Verdugo: [The left-field fans] are rolling with the dawg theme. They are barking at me out there. Your teammates are barking at you as well.

Verdugo: No doubt. Honestly, it’s awesome. The way the fans have embraced me. Obviously coming from the Red Sox, you never know how that is going to be. Now that they have seen me, they appreciate the way I play. They know I’m going to bust my butt, go hard at it. It’s always great when the fan base gets behind you and helps you out a little bit. It makes you feel at ease. Were you shocked by the trade? It’s rare when the Yankees make a deal with the Red Sox.

Verdugo: I was. I thought I was going to get traded. I didn’t think it would be an AL East team, let alone the Yankees. Looking back at it now, it’s the best thing that has happened to me. You are going to become a free agent after this season. How much do you want to stay with the Yankees? You realize they have other outfielders in the Minor Leagues who are ready to make their mark in The Show.

Verdugo: I would love to stay here. … We would like to make something work out. I’m not worried about anybody that is coming up. Obviously, you have Jasson Domínguez and Spencer Jones. Obviously, those guys are more special than some of the others. At the end of the day, I know what I can bring to the field. I bring the energy, the defense and the quality of at-bats. I know the value that I do bring. Really, you don’t worry about that kind of stuff. Whatever happens, happens. I’m at a point in my life where if I can go out there and control what I can on the field this year, I can set myself up in a really good spot. You became a father for the third time a few weeks back. What’s the biggest thing your father taught you that you will carry over to your children?

Verdugo: It's accountability. … You can do what you want, but at the end of the day, you need to be accountable for whatever actions you have done or said. I think that’s the biggest thing I try to incorporate [with] my kids. I tell them to be a good person, treat people the way you want to be treated. You want to teach the kids how to be good people. That’s the biggest thing for me. I’m not looking for the most athletic. I’m not looking for the jock. I want to be proud of them. Tell me how it feels to be a girl dad for the first time?

Verdugo: Right now, it doesn’t feel too much different just because my baby can’t talk yet. But it’s one of those things where I do feel like, “That’s my baby. That’s my little girl.” I know I’m going to spoil her. If my sons try to mess with her, they are going to get it from me. I think it’s really going to hit me when I start hearing her talk to me. I’m excited about it. I know I love my kids. Will you get them interested in your many tattoos and your designer shoes?

Verdugo: The shoes, for sure. Tattoos, I’m going to do what my parents did and steer them away from it. It didn’t work for you.

Verdugo: [Laughing] It didn’t work for me. At the end of the day, they are their own people. They can do whatever they want. I want to make sure that I let them know whatever they do, there are consequences, and you have to be able to handle the outcome of whatever it is. If you get something tattooed on you – it’s almost permanent nowadays because they have the stuff to take it off. You have to remember, whatever they do – even if it’s in the moment – you have to make sure you can deal with it. To me, your shoes look like shoes. Tell me why they are so popular?

Verdugo: I just do different designs. I have my taxi shoes [yellow]. Everybody understands that one. These other sneakers are the iconic [Yankee] pinstripes with the retired numbers on them. …. I love expressing myself in that way.