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Alex Verdugo battling through hamstring tightness, but unconcerned

Alex Verdugo's No. 99 chain got in his face on a first-inning swing Wednesday night at Fenway Park against Atlanta.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Alex Verdugo is still hampered a bit by left hamstring tightness. At times, you can see him pull up when running out certain grounders.

“It’s just one of those things,” Verdugo said before the Red Sox’ 9-5 win against the Braves Wednesday to split the two-game set. “It’s there, but I’m not going to say it’s going to fully impact me like that. I just feel like I got to be cautious with it. There are certain plays when I’m running, maybe I shut it down just a little bit.”

Verdugo, who went 1 for 4 Wednesday, originally started feeling the tightness in his left hamstring as a result of right calf tightness. He doesn’t see it having a long term impact on him.


“I didn’t want to fully put a lot of weight on my right leg,” Verdugo said. “So I felt like my left leg probably took over a little bit. And that’s why I got this. But our training staff, everybody, we’re on a good path, man. My calf is feeling a lot better. We’re starting to figure out what’s going on in there, doing a couple little activating and treatment things that are just putting me in a lot better place.”

Alex Verdugo hit second in the lineup Wednesday night against the Braves.Stan Grossfeld/Globe Staff

Verdugo is a key part of this Red Sox team, particularly the top of the lineup. In 46 games, he’s hitting .292/.353/.456 with six homers. Having him healthy is essential, particularly in the midst of this tough stretch of games. Before the end of June, the Red Sox have two series each against the Astros and Yankees, plus meetings with the Blue Jays and Rays.

“We’re going to keep working, keep grinding,” Verdugo said. “I feel like once the legs start coming back a little bit, everything else is going to start to really take off. So you got to go through it, fight it, and work with what you got today. It’s a long season.”


Ryan Brasier getting close

Ryan Brasier (left calf strain) threw live batting practice Wednesday and is getting close to a rehab assignment, per manager Alex Cora. Brasier will throw a bullpen over the weekend, then another live batting practice. From there, the team will see where he’s at.

If all goes well, Brasier could go on a rehab assignment next week.

“It seems that way. It feels that way,” Cora said. “We’ve just got to make sure with him that he’s physically fit, which is very important. Mechanics are very important with him. You saw it in ’19 and ’20 when he’s gone off [mechanics], and it doesn’t go the way we want.”

In 2019, Brasier struggled to a 4.85 ERA in 55⅔ innings. He recovered somewhat in the shortened 60-game 2020, striking out a career-high 10.8 batters per nine innings to go along with a 3.96 ERA.

In the absence of Brasier, the Red Sox haven’t settled on a seventh-inning guy. Instead, Cora has mixed and matched. Brasier could serve as the bridge to Adam Ottavino and Matt Barnes.

“We believe he’s getting close,” Cora reiterated.

Into the night

When the Red Sox took the lead with a four-run bottom of the sixth inning on Wednesday, the teams had nearly three hours to think about it. Rain halted the game just after 9 p.m., with no updates for more than two hours until 11:36, when the grounds crew rushed to prepare the field for an announced midnight restart. They did so, with the delay officially clocking in at two hours, 53 minutes . . . After Friday’s game against the Marlins, Cora will travel to Puerto Rico to see his daughter, Camila, graduate from high school. Bench coach Will Venable will manage Saturday, with Cora planning to be back Sunday. “I wish I could be there more, but obviously with the guidelines and protocols, it’s hard,” Cora said. “She’s still rooting for the Red Sox, rooting for dad, rooting for baseball, and now it’s our time to root for her. I cannot wait for Saturday, I think it’s probably the biggest day of my life” . . . Boos showered down on Pablo Sandoval for the second night in a row. Back with Atlanta, Sandoval’s five-year, $95 million deal with the Red Sox back in the 2014 offseason turned out to be one of the worst contracts in franchise history. He played in just 161 games and struggled with staying in shape before the Red Sox cut ties in the summer of 2017. “They don’t treat me that bad here,” Sandoval said of the fans. “Just things don’t go well sometimes. I’m happy to be back and winning games — that’s the most important thing. Try to help my team to win games.” Sandoval was 0 for 4 with a strikeout Wednesday, dropping his average to .261 in 36 games this year. Yankee starter Corey Kluber is headed to the injured list with a right shoulder strain. Yankee first baseman Luke Voit also hit the IL with a grade 2 right oblique strain.


Julian McWilliams can be reached at julian.mcwilliams@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @byJulianMack.