Yankees' Alex Verdugo homers vs. Red Sox in return to Fenway – and lets them know about it

BOSTON – Asked how he expected to be received as a visitor this weekend, returning to Fenway Park, Alex Verdugo replied: “Like a Yankee.’’

On cue, Verdugo's first swing on Friday night produced a two-run homer to center field off Brayan Bello, giving the Yankees a quick 2-0 lead against his former team.

Trotting around the bases, Verdugo heard the boos from Boston's fans - and the cheers of a large contingent of Yankees' fans - as he grandly gestured in celebration toward the visiting dugout.

Hours earlier, Verdugo called it “a special, weird day for me,’’ preparing to play against his old team, the Red Sox, with his new club – their despised, ancient rivals and the owners of MLB’s best record.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone switched Verdugo and Juan Soto defensively Friday, starting Verdugo in the familiar, expansive grounds of right field, taking advantage of his plus defense.

Soto was set to handle left field, with its famously shorter dimensions in the Green Monster’s shadow.

Across his three seasons (2021-23) with the Red Sox, Verdugo – the key figure in a trade that sent Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers – batted .278 and averaged a .751 OPS, 12 homers, 64 RBI and 147 games per season.

Verdugo entered this series batting .259 with a .733 OPS, eight homers and 37 RBI in 68 games, serving mostly as the Yankees’ unconventional cleanup hitter behind Juan Soto and Aaron Judge.

Yankees right fielder Alex Verdugo celebrates his two-run home run against the Red Sox.
Yankees right fielder Alex Verdugo celebrates his two-run home run against the Red Sox.

Verdugo’s last season in Boston was a lot more forgettable, with instances of lateness and lack of hustle that caused Red Sox manager Alex Cora to discipline the lefty hitter.

As he did in spring training, Verdugo said he’s maintained a good relationship with Cora.

“Our families like each other, our kids like each other. Off the field we have no problems at all,’’ said Verdugo. “A couple minor things, we bumped heads on - that’s fine.

“Not everybody’s always going to agree with things, but really, I’ve got nothing but respect for AC," adding that he’s “a little tired’’ of that subject.

This article originally appeared on Watch Alex Verdugo epic home run celebration in return to Fenway Park