Alex Verdugo tried to give a souvenir to a fan. Instead, he was used for target practice.
The ball the Red Sox outfielder tossed into the left-field bleachers prior to the bottom of the sixth inning wound up being thrown right back at him, hitting Verdugo in the back, and halting the game for a few minutes after Boston manager Alex Cora took his team off the field.
“As fans, bro, y’all got to be better. It’s just that simple,” Verdugo said over Zoom after the Yankees’ 3-1, rain-shortened victory at the Stadium. “You don’t throw s–t at people. You wouldn’t do that to somebody in the street. You wouldn’t do that to me if we were staying right next to each other without a 40-foot gap and a fence to separate us.”
Cora said he was stunned by what took place. Yankees manager Aaron Boone, who apologized to Cora and the Red Sox on behalf of his team, had even stronger comments.
“It’s awful, embarrassing, unacceptable,” Boone said. “My understanding is they did catch the guy. Hopefully he’s in jail right now.”
Verdugo was trying to get the ball to a young Red Sox fan, but his throw was off target and it wound up with a Yankees fan. Immediately, fans around that fan began chanting, “throw it back, throw it back,” and so the fan obliged, several people sitting in the section told The Post.
“He turned around and he started yelling at them,” security guard Carlos Ventura said, referring to Verdugo. “My supervisor found the person and they got him.”
Cora said his intention in pulling the Red Sox off the field was to calm down Verdugo, who was furious at being hit with the ball. He merely wanted to give Verdugo and the other Red Sox time to cool down.
“I know my left fielder. I know Alex,” Cora said. “He needed time to breathe and to gather his thoughts. It seemed like nobody was listening to me. You never know. What if he jumps the fence? What if he goes up there [into the crowd]?”
Verdugo said the one positive aspect of the situation was it didn’t get worse, that he was only hit in the back, and not in the head. But he was also disappointed at what took place as well.
“I come to expect it when I’m out there. The trash-talking, bringing up family members, having everybody chant — excuse my language — f–k Verdugo and all these things, I’m used to that,” Verdugo said. “I don’t care. That’s cool with me. As players, we’re throwing a ball in the stands to try to give people souvenirs, try to make a little kid’s day and things like that. Just to hear people saying throw it back and someone to throw it back, and it felt it was targeted toward me, it [doesn’t] sit right with me.”