FORT MYERS, Fla. — Opening Day is very much in question for new Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo. He doesn’t simply have a back injury; he has an L-5 stress fracture that could put him on the injured list to start the season.
“This injury, it’s a stress fracture,” manager Ron Roenicke said Saturday. “That’s what this is.”
That was more information than the Dodgers publicly revealed last season when it occurred. But the Red Sox were aware of the injury when they acquired the 23-year-old Verdugo and two prospects for Mookie Betts and David Price last week and believe he will fully recover.
“It’s healing nice and the images that he’s taken through the offseason, [it] continues to heal if not healed completely,” Roenicke said. “It’s an injury that takes time.”
The Red Sox had their own X-rays taken Friday.
“To be honest, if everything goes right he still may not be ready for Opening Day,” Roenicke said.
Verdugo said the injury first became a concern last May when the Dodgers played two games on the artificial turf at Tampa Bay. Verdugo played nine innings in both games, which aggravated what had been minor soreness.
“It blew up my back a little bit. It was my first time being on turf with metal spikes,” Verdugo said. “After that, I felt a lot more discomfort.”
Verdugo then strained an oblique muscle in early August and spent the rest of the season on the injured list. It was at that point that the Dodgers determined he had a stress fracture in his back.
The Red Sox had their own set of images taken when Verdugo arrived at camp. He then met with team personnel to map out a plan for spring training.
“We’re going to take our time on this,” Verdugo said. “We’re going to make sure that we’re right so that way when I am playing and I’m able to be in Boston that it’s the whole year and it’s continuous.”
Once he’s able to play, Verdugo expects to play well. His confidence is not fractured in the slightest.
“I know who I am. I know what I can do on the baseball field,” Verdugo said. “I’m extremely confident in my abilities with everything: defensively, in the batter’s box, base running. I know that I can be a game-changer. I plan on being an All-Star, having Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers. I plan on that.”
Verdugo claimed he was a Red Sox fan growing up in Arizona and is eager to meet David Ortiz. He joked that he might cry.
“David Ortiz is my main guy,” Verdugo said. “I’m so excited to meet him.”
Verdugo also said he signed his name three times inside the Green Monster when the Dodgers played a three-game series at Fenway last July. He was 4 for 9, with a home run off Eduardo Rodriguez, in that series.
Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.