Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo calls out disrespectful division rival

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox
Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox / Nick Grace/GettyImages

Boston Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo has never been shy about showing emotion on the field. He's a charismatic individual with a passion for the game. He's been known to jump around and scream at the top of his lungs in celebration of a great play. Verdugo is a player who wears his emotions on his sleeve.

While Verdugo has no problem with players reacting to the moment with an outburst of emotion, there's a limit to what they can get away with on the field. The line might be blurry but it exists. Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Alek Manoah has a reputation for crossing that line and Verdugo called him out for it on Audacy's Baseball Isn't Boring podcast.

“Like I’ll say it right now, I think Alek Manoah goes about it the wrong way, 100 percent I think he does," said Verdugo. "You can find videos of him, footage of him in Triple-A going like this to hitters. Last year, telling Franchy and Bobby like go sit, s--t like that and looking right at them. So it’s like, s--t like that just pisses me off. It’s not the way it should be played. It should be played like you’re celebrating it with your team, you’re not f------g disrespecting another player who is – at the end of the day we’re just trying to compete, that’s it.”

Alex Verdugo rips Alek Manoah for disrespecting the Red Sox

Verdugo referenced an example from last July when the Blue Jays visited Fenway Park. Manoah ended his outing by striking out Franchy Cordero and Bobby Dalbec in the sixth inning. The Blue Jays starter was seen barking at both players to go sit down after punching them out, which clearly irritated the Red Sox.

Dalbec homered against Manoah in the second inning and collected a base hit in his next trip to the plate. Manoah must have felt a sense of relief when he finally won the battle against him the third time through the lineup. There's nothing wrong with an emotional reaction in that situation but taunting the player is the wrong way to go about it.

Talking trash to Cordero, who hit .219 last season, was even more baffling. Manoah, an All-Star who was in the running for the AL Cy Young award last season, was gloating about striking out a pair of fringe major leaguers who were among the game's most strikeout-prone hitters? That's a bad look.

Baseball has a long history of following unwritten rules meant to curtail any sign of showmanship. The game is evolving with the new generation of young players willing to express themselves on the field. These guys are having fun playing baseball and they want to show it, which is great for the game. Flip your bat after a home run, pump your fist when you strike out a batter, scream with joy to celebrate a web gem. These emotional reactions can energize a team. The fans will react from the stands and players can feed off the electric atmosphere they create.

Players should be encouraged to show emotion as long as it's delivered in the right way. As Verdugo said, you can celebrate with your teammates without disrespecting your opponent. Throwing your hands in the air as a home run off your bat leaves the park is an honest reaction to the moment, it's not meant to show up the pitcher. Pointing and laughing at the pitcher or yapping at him as you round the bases is poor sportsmanship. Manoah would be furious if a hitter did that to him, so why would he think it's ok to taunt opposing hitters in a similar fashion?

The Blue Jays visit Fenway Park for the first time this season in a series that begins on May 1. Rotations could potentially be reshuffled by then but Manoah, Toronto's Opening Day starter, is currently lined up to appear in that four-game series. We might find out during that series if Manoah heard the comments from Verdugo. Maybe Manoah will heed those words by toning it down a bit on the mound, but if he was upset by being called out for his actions, we could see this division rivalry explode when these two competitors meet again.