Red Sox OF Alex Verdugo blames ejection during Astros game on ‘soft’ umpire

Red Sox

“That’s baseball. Have a little bit tougher skin and deal with it.”

Alex Verdugo #99 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after hitting a one run home run against the Washington Nationals during the first inning at Nationals Park on August 15, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Alex Verdugo was given the hook in the fourth inning of Tuesday’s loss to Houston. Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Alex Verdugo needed to watch most of the Red Sox’ 7-3 loss to the Astros on Tuesday night in the visitors’ clubhouse at Minute Maid Park.

The Red Sox outfielder was tossed by home plate umpire Pat Hoberg in the top of the fourth inning, prompting Alex Cora to throw rookie Wilyer Abreu into a sudden, unscripted MLB debut in right field.

But Verdugo’s exit was not prompted by a verbal barb at the plate over balls and strikes. Rather, Verdugo was given the hook while sitting in the Red Sox dugout, taking out Boston’s leadoff hitter still early in the contest.

Postgame, Verdugo had no regrets over what he said to Hoberg from the dugout that led to his early exit. Rather, the Sox leadoff man took umbrage with Hoberg opting to not issue a warning before levying his punishment.

“No, there was no warning, bro. I already said it. There’s no warning,” Verdugo told reporters in Houston. “At the end of the day, if an umpire needs to throw somebody out, especially if it’s about arguing balls and strikes like he claims, you need to have a hard warning.

“You need to say, ‘OK, that’s it. The next word that comes out, the next thing I hear, you’re gone.’ He was a little too quick, that’s all.”

Verdugo added that his criticism wasn’t directly related to balls and strikes, which eventually prompted Alex Cora’s ejection in the seventh inning.

“Just chirping. I can yell and mess around to any umpire however I feel,” Verdugo said. “Just because you’re yelling at somebody or chirping doesn’t necessarily mean it’s about balls or strikes. He was feeling self-conscious because the dugout was already letting him know about some balls and strikes.

“So he was already on edge, feeling some type of way and saw me move my mouth. I was sitting on the bench. I wasn’t even in the front, you know, like popping up really mad. I said something while I was sitting down. A little jokingly, a little just to kind of make some noise. And he saw me and threw me out.”

Verdugo said that a warning likely wouldn’t have been warranted if he was arguing directly with the umpire at home plate. Before getting tossed for his comments directed from the dugout, Verdugo went 0-for-2 at the plate with a strikeout.

“I’m not at home plate. I’m sitting on the bench. Like so many people don’t even know what happened. So that’s why it was frustrating. It was like, you’ve gotta give a warning. And to me, he was being soft,” Verdugo said. “It is what it is, man. It’s one of those things, I feel like, personally, umpires are protected too much, especially with that.

“It’s part of their job to be good, right? And I understand the human error aspect of it and you know you’re not gonna get every call. But don’t be so sensitive when we let you know our side of it. That’s baseball. Have a little bit tougher skin and deal with it.”