WASHINGTON, D.C — Alex Verdugo arrived from the minor leagues this month with an outside shot to play his way onto the Dodgers’ postseason roster. This won’t help.
Verdugo was late arriving at the ballpark Friday before the Dodgers opened a three-game series with the Washington Nationals. The 21-year-old Verdugo arrived about 20 minutes before the team took the field for the pre-game workout after the position players had already met for the daily hitters’ meeting.
After the pre-game workout, Verdugo declined to discuss the issue or offer an explanation, saying he preferred to keep that a team matter. The Dodgers stay in a suburb outside the District of Columbia when they play the Nationals and many players take cabs or Uber to the ballpark rather than the team bus. Traffic on a Friday afternoon can make the trip last as much as 40 minutes.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he didn’t learn of Verdugo’s tardiness until he was heading out to the field for the workout but would “address it” with him. General Manager Farhan Zaidi is on this trip with the team and said the same thing.
“I haven’t spoken to him yet so I don’t know his explanation,” Zaidi said. “But I plan to speak with him.”
Somebody had already spoken to Verdugo. Almost immediately after his late arrival, the young outfielder was approached by veteran left-hander Rich Hill, who dressed down the September call-up in front of his locker.
“That’s the way it should be,” Roberts said of the veteran’s initiative.
The Dodgers’ second-round pick in the 2014 draft, Verdugo quickly established himself as one of the most talented players in their farm system and was ranked as their top position-player prospect behind Cody Bellinger coming into this season. But he also earned low marks for his discipline and work ethic, something that Verdugo himself has acknowledged in interviews. Roberts said he was aware of that reputation when Verdugo joined the Dodgers this month for his first taste of the major leagues.
“Yes, we talked about it,” said Roberts, explaining that he had suggested to Verdugo that he should be “looking and watching how major leaguers behave and go about their work.”
“He was very receptive. He wants to do the right thing.”
Going into this weekend’s series, Verdugo was 3 for 16 (.188) with a home run in nine games (four starts).
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