Boston Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo was benched during Wednesday's game after failing to hustle, according to Julian McWilliams of the Boston Globe. In turn, Verdugo will not start Thursday's series finale versus the Cleveland Guardians.
The tipping point occurred during the seventh inning of Wednesday's game. Verdugo was on first base and the Red Sox were trailing by a 5-2 score when Masataka Yoshida hit a two-out chopper to the right side. The play pulled first baseman Josh Naylor far away from the bag, and at such an angle that it would've been difficult for him to toss the ball to the pitcher covering first base in time to record the out.
Alas, Naylor was able to snuff out whatever rally could've transpired because Verdugo let off the pedal on his way into second base. Naylor delivered the ball to shortstop Amed Rosario, who made a stretching grab to corral the ball for the third out. Here's a look at the play in question:
Verdugo, 27, exited Wednesday's game hitting .286/.364/.450 (120 OPS+) with five home runs and 24 runs batted in. His contributions this season have been worth an estimated 2.3 Wins Above Replacement, per Baseball Reference. The Red Sox originally acquired Verdugo as part of the return from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Mookie Betts. It's fair to write that deal has not aged particularly well.
The Red Sox entered Thursday with a 31-31 record on the season, putting them in last place in the American League East. After Thursday's contest, the Red Sox will head to New York to take on the Yankees for a weekend series. That will mark the first time this season the two teams meet.