After signing Mookie Betts to a 12-year contract (valued at $365 million), there's no more need for concern from Dodgers fans for the players traded to Boston for the new face of the franchise (and, perhaps, Major League Baseball).
But the centerpiece of the Red Sox's haul was outfielder Alex Verdugo. And the Dodgers' former top prospect arguably faced significant pressure going into the season as the guy who had to replace Mookie Betts. The COVID-19 shutdown allowed Verdugo to recover from a back injury. And 13 games into his first Red Sox season, his .262 average and .802 OPS look good.
Boston sure reacted like it had a new superstar after what appeared to be a breakout performance Friday night against the Toronto Blue Jays. Verdugo went 2-for-4 with two home runs and robbed Travis Shaw of a home run with a catch over the Fenway Park right-field wall.
No more worries for Red Sox fans, right? That was the type of game Betts could typically have. Never mind that it was only one game. Afterward, Verdugo wasn't interested in any comparisons from Boston media, taking an opportunity to vent what he's probably been holding in for approximately six months.
"I don’t like comparing it. I don’t like when people bring it up," Verdugo told reporters (via Boston.com). "Obviously, the nature of the trade, it’s going to happen. People are going to say it. I’m going to go out there. I’m gonna play my game and bring the energy that I bring."
Verdugo may not like the comparisons, but he'll keep hearing them until he proves Friday night wasn't an exception. There's only one way to make Boston fans and media stop connecting him to Betts. Avoiding being a footnote in baseball history might continue to motivate him going forward.
Ian Casselberry watchdogs sports media for Awful Announcing. He's covered baseball for SB Nation, Yahoo Sports and MLive, and was one of Bleacher Report's first lead MLB writers. Please follow Ian on Twitter @iancass and give him a listen at The Podcass.
Video courtesy of SportsNetLA/Los Angeles Dodgers