BOSTON (CBS) — Red Sox fans hoping to see the team’s top return in the Mookie Betts trade may have to wait. And that wait may be a while.

Newly acquired outfielder Alex Verdugo may not be in the Red Sox lineup come opening day, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. The back injury that caused Verdugo to miss time last August continues to hamper the 23-year-old, and may cause him to miss the start of the 2020 season.

The Red Sox knew about the back issue when they sent Betts and David Price to Los Angeles for Verdugo and prospects Jeter Downs and Connor Wong (and lots of salary relief). But given the Red Sox put up a fuss over the medical history of pitcher Brusdar Graterol in an initial three-team trade for Betts that included the Minnesota Twins, this news will leave Boston fans shaking their heads once again.

The team did not see Verdugo’s back injury as a long-term concern when they viewed his medical record while negotiating the trade, according to Speier. A timetable is expected to be determined once the Boston medical staff gets to see Verdugo when he reports to spring training.

In 106 games during his rookie season last year, Verdugo hit .294 with 12 homers, 44 RBIs and 43 runs scored. The lefty figures to play a big role on the Red Sox in 2020 — as long as he’s healthy.

Boston opens their 2020 season on March 26 in Toronto against the Blue Jays. They’ll have their home opener a week later on April 2, hosting the Chicago White Sox.


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