New Red Sox Outfielder Addresses Past Sexual Assault Incident

Nick Friar
February 15, 2020 - 3:05 pm

When the Red Sox acquired Alex Verdugo as part of the trade that sent Mookie Betts and Davis Price to the Dodgers, questions about his character were raised. And not simply about how Verdugo approached the game.

During initial reports of the trade, SB Nation’s Beyond The Box Score surfaced a report from another site, All Heels on Deck, regarding the assault and sexual assault of an underage girl in Arizona. In All Heels on Deck’s report, written by Jessica Quiroli, two then-members of the Dodgers organization were mentioned as being present at the scene of the incident, per the Glendale Police Department: James Baldwin and Verdugo. Baldwin was investigated by the Glendale PD for the sexual assault.

Paul Rubin reported on the incident for Sports Illustrated, stating there were two members of the Dodgers organization alleged to be present during the 2015 incident, though he did not mention the specific names of players “since no charges were filed.”

Rubin — who was also familiar with the police report — also reported on the assault, stating Gabe Kapler, then the Dodgers director for player development, receive an email from the girl’s grandmother, who wrote the underage girl “said she had consumed half a bottle of vodka, vomited on a bed and then been beaten up by the two women — all while someone in the group recorded video that was later posted on Snapchat.” Quiroli’s report indicates Verdugo witnessed the assault of the girl by the two women present, and either he or Baldwin, or both, posted the video to social media.

Following the acquisition of Verdugo on Monday, Chaim Bloom was asked about how the organization approaches vetting on an issue of the magnitude of “allegation of proximity to a sexual assault.”

“I don’t think it would be appropriate for us to go into a ton of detail on that specific incident, but the due diligence process there was extensive,” Bloom said. “Obviously, that’s a topic that we take very seriously, as everybody should. We researched it very thoroughly. And, at the end of the day, we would not have moved forward with the acquisition if we had found anything disqualifying.”

Bloom was asked a follow-up question regarding the process, and replied, “I don’t want to get in the details of the process.”

On Saturday, before Verdugo spoke to the media for the first time since the trade, Ron Roenicke stated Verdugo talked to the team about the report and allegations.

“He’s already addressed that with us,” the Red Sox interim manager said. “He did yesterday, talked about it. I don’t know how freely he’ll want to talk to you guys about it. I’m not sure. But, our people investigated it a lot, and they’re comfortable with what has been reported.”

Verdugo was then asked five questions about the incident. Here are the questions, along with Verdugo’s entire responses:

Alex, since you were traded, there were some media reports about an incident when you were in the minor league in Arizona. Can you say if you were there or what happened during that incident?

Verdugo: Yeah. With that incident, there's a lot of reports and, obviously, my name being mentioned in the allegations, you know, it hurts. It really does hurt. It’s hard. And I don’t want Boston fans, I don’t want people to judge me for something they have read or seen posted. For me, it’s just, you know, I know who I am. I know what I believe in. I know my family values and, like I said, it’s extremely hard to have to deal with that. You obviously have a lot of mixed views on it, but there was — I was cleared of any wrongdoing, of anything. And with that being said, it was a terrible thing that happened. But, I’m really just — it was in my past. It’s something that, I’ve grown from it. I’ve learned from it and I’ve stayed active in my community with the Dodgers. Showing face and being very out there with the fans and interacting with people. I want to give back to my community. I want to show people that I am a good guy. I care a lot about this game, and I have a big heart. I want people to judge me for, obviously, the way I play. The way I go out there and what I bring out to the field: the energy, the hard work, the giving a hundred percent. That’s what I want to be known for. Obviously, not something that happened several years back.

You said you were clear from it, but you also said it’s a terrible thing, you learned a lot from it. What did you learn?

Verdugo: I learned that you have to be smarter with the positions that you put yourself in. And, really, with that being said, yeah like I said, you got to be smart with the positions your self in. It’s just … it was tough, but I feel — there was due diligence on everybody’s end. Boston — before making a trade like this, everybody looks into it. Everybody has to do their homework on everything and make sure everything’s right. And with that being said, there was — I was cleared of anything wrongdoing. And, obviously, that still didn’t — this is just tough to talk about because it’s hard for me and I don’t want this to keep going. I want to start my time in Boston. Like I said, I grew up loving this team. I grew up loving this fan base, the organization. You obviously read what people say and you hear it, you hear it come out. So, it hurts, but at the end of the day, it was in the past. I can’t do nothing about it not but really show people the real me, who I am. And continue to further myself as not only a baseball player, but as a human being as a person, as a teammate all that.

Do you have any comment on the Nick Francona-Gabe Kapler back-and-forth?

Verdugo: No, honestly I don’t have any comments regarding that.

Do you have any regrets about what happened?

Verdugo: I mean, I would say … I have regrets of, you know, obviously, what had transpired that night with certain events. But … yeah, I mean, with that, yeah, I don’t even want to — I don’t think there’s much further to comment on it. It’s just, there was an investigation. There was a lot of things that was done with it. And, like I said, I was cleared of anything wrongdoing. And if I was around for anything that had happened, I would have put a stop to it. I would have helped out. I would have done something. There’s a lot of mixed reports on it. I just felt like this is a good time to get my truth out and how I am. I think it’s something that, you know, obviously, it’s … it sucks but we’re going to work through it, we’re going to keep getting better and we’re just going to keep going.

Ron mentioned that you said something to the team about it, why was that important to you to address that right away?

Verdugo: It’s just because, obviously, the media. Just how it is right now. You guys are bringing it up, you guys are asking about it and talking — you have to do it. You know, you have to — you guys have to do your homework. You have to cover everything. With that being said, I wanted to come to a new organization, but I didn’t want to be a distraction. I’m here to play baseball. I’m a baseball player. I’m here to help the Boston Red Sox win a championship, to go out there every single day and contribute and to, like I said, win a championship and keep going further like that. So, it was something I had to address to let everybody know the truth of it and hear it from my side to hear the actual what happened. It was just — I think at the end of the day, it doesn’t catch any of the players by surprise now. It’s out there. Everybody knows it. Now you can kind of start that healing, the moving on, like, let’s focus on baseball. This is what we’re here for. It’s spring training, everybody is excited. It’s baseball season. This is one of the best times all year round. So that’s what I’m looking forward to.

Just to clarify, Alex: you had said you were cleared of wrongdoing, who was that? By the team?

Verdugo: Well, I mean, there was a police investigation. There was a team thing, too. But, obviously, there’s mixed views on everything. You know what I mean? It is what it is. People will spin however they want to spin it. But, like I said, I know who I am as a person. I’m very confident with that. I have five sisters, two brothers. I have a very big family. So I was raised the right way. I was — growing up, I was very close to my sisters. And, like I said, I treat women with the utmost respect. And that’s why I say having allegations like this hurts. Having my name mentioned in it hurts. It does. It does put — it puts emotional stress on you. It takes a lot out of you. But, with that being said — like I said, that’s in the past. I would really like to focus on baseball. Focus on my next opportunity here and the Boston Red Sox. And I’m looking forward to getting started here and really letting my play, letting passion for the game show people who I really am.

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