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Alex Cora’s All-Star comparison for Alex Verdugo should excite Red Sox fans

Boston Red Sox, Alex Verdugo, Alex Cora, Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Guardians

Cleveland Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez had a slow and steady start in MLB before he emerged as a perennial All-Star. For Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, he aspires to see Alex Verdugo follow this blueprint.

It was only until his fourth season that Ramirez essentially became a household name in the majors. After hitting .219 in the 2015 season, he blossomed in the 2016 campaign with Cleveland, which included career highs across the board.

While there are stark contrasts in approaches at the plate between Ramirez and Verdugo, Cora, as he recently opened up about, hopes to see more gradual progression in the Red Sox outfielder’s play, especially with his overall power.

“It’s kind of like — this guy is a freak, one of the best hitters in the big leagues, Jose Ramirez,” Cora said. “He went from hitting 50 doubles to hitting 30 doubles and almost 40 home runs. That’s the progression. Hopefully this is the beginning of something great.

“We went through this path before. I don’t want him to try to hit homers. I want him to just hit homers. This guy can hit 40 doubles and 20 homers. If he does that we’ll be very happy. If he runs into 30, that’ll be great.”

Verdugo has yet to reach 40-plus doubles or 30-plus home runs in a single season, but he is off to a promising start in the 2022 campaign. For one, he notched 13 home runs over the 2021 regular season, and he already sits at three home runs recorded through nine games played this year.

Overall, Cora sees that there is still room for improvement with Verdugo’s play at the plate, but he believes there is plenty of promise in what he can bring to the Red Sox offense.

“I don’t want him to get off who he is as a hitter, because when we talk about pure hitters, he is that guy,” Cora said. “He can go the other way. He can work the count. He can pull the ball. Now he’s driving the ball, so obviously game-planning is going to come into play, probably, when they see him driving the ball that way.”

Verdugo and the Red Sox will cap off their four-game series against the Minnesota Twins on Monday before opening up a crucial three-game home series with the Toronto Blue Jays.