Verdugo, 24, was Boston's headlining return piece in the three-team trade that send Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers this past offseason, and he's expected to replace Betts in right field long-term. After Boston's 5-3 win over the Blue Jays Friday where Verdugo hit two home runs and robbed a ninth-inning homer from Travis Shaw, he was candid with his thoughts when asked by a reporter about why the pressure of replacing Betts hasn't affected him.
I'm not replacing him, that's what you guys say, that's what everybody else says. I'm going out there, playing right field, playing my game. I don't think about Mookie. I think he's a great player. He did a lot for Boston, he's going to do a lot for the Dodgers.
I think about me being here and what I'm going to do and what I'm going to bring to this team. So it's not a comparable thing, I don't like comparing it, I don't like when people bring it up. But obviously, the nature of the trade, it's going to happen, people are going to say it. But, I'm going to play my game. I'm going to go out there and compete, bring the energy that I bring. That's how I've always been. I don't care about shoes to fill or anything like that. I'm playing my game.
Before the start of the 2020 season, Betts signed a 12-year extension to stay with the Dodgers. Verdugo, meanwhile, looks to be a permanent fixture in the Red Sox outfield, and he wants people to begin recognizing him beyond just the guy Boston got back in the Betts trade.
More from Verdugo:
It doesn't bother me. It's just one of those things that I think it's weird that so many media and fans, everybody wants to bring it up like it's such a big deal.
Do I watch him? Do I watch baseball around the league? Yes, I watch everything. I love baseball, I love watching it. But, to go out there and feel some type of pressure or feel some type of way about myself like I need to show something, I need to hit homers or rob homers all the time to fill this void that Mookie left. No, I don't have that. My job is to get on base to make this game a little bit easier for the guys coming up behind me and in front of me.
Verdugo now has three home runs and four RBI on the season -- all of them coming in the last two days -- with a .294/.368/.559 slash line through 11 games.