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Jonathan Papelbon Wants Red Sox to Drill Yankees’ Alex Verdugo Over Recent Comments

The New York Yankees trade for outfielder Alex Verdugo may not be the biggest move of the offseason, but it has already re-ignited the rivalry with the Boston Red Sox. Verdugo spent the past four seasons with the Red Sox, but Boston traded him to New York after an up-and-down season in which Verdugo was benched multiple times.

Verdugo spoke with New York media for the first time since the trade on Thursday, and the outfielder explained that he is excited to play for new manager Aaron Boone, seeming to take a shot at Red Sox manager Alex Cora in the process.

“I’m very, very excited to work with Aaron, I’ve seen the way he has his players’ backs,” Verdugo said. “That’s something I want to see out of my head coach. I want to see some fire, some fight for the guys, and I think just instead of airing people out, have their backs.” 

Red Sox fans were taken aback by Verdugo’s comments, opting to defend Cora, who helped lead the team to the 2018 World Series title. Former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon was especially heated, as he said he would intentionally hit Verdugo for his comments.

“Verdugo I mean Vertigo is a B----,” Papelbon said on social media. “Cora has his players and teammates backs more than anyone in the game. You aired yourself out by being late, lazy and unproductive. If I played for Cora I’m drilling this b----, just saying.”

Former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon pumps his fist after finishing a game.

Papelbon, a former star closer for the Red Sox, did not take kindly to Verdugo’s comments after his move to the Yankees.

Verdugo’s relationship with Cora appeared to sour over the course of the season, culminating in Cora’s decision to bench Verdugo in a crucial August game vs. the Blue Jays, after which he aired Verdugo out.

“From coaches to players to analysts to the front office, everybody has to be available every single day here,” Cora said after benching Verdugo. “That’s the bottom line, and today, one guy wasn’t available.”

The Yankees and Red Sox play each other 13 times next season, with the first matchup coming in Boston on June 14. Verdugo is sure to get a reaction from the crowd when he steps into the box.