Yankees’ Alex Verdugo sparking barking celebrations

NEW YORK — Alex Verdugo has the New York Yankees barking.

After the Yankees opened the season with a four-game sweep in Houston, the demonstrative outfielder described his new teammates as a bunch of “dawgs.”

To celebrate both of his homers, Verdugo’s teammates have taken the compliment literally, barking loudly in the dugout like hungry canines.

“I love it, I love it,” Verdugo said after homering in Tuesday’s night’s 3-2 win over the Miami Marlins.

Aaron Judge, Juan Soto, Anthony Rizzo & Co. are a big league-best 10-2.

“Anytime I hear the teammates barking — I got Rizzo throwing up the little ‘Arf, arf, arf,’ so it’s a lot of fun. They’re running with it and we love it,” Verdugo said after the game, wearing a gray T-shirt that read: “Bronx Dawgs.”

Verdugo hit a go-ahead home run in the second inning. After clearing the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium, Verdugo was met with a barking mob in the dugout, featuring pet sounds from Giancarlo Stanton and Rizzo.

Acquired from Boston in a rare trade between the rivals, Verdugo is hitting .220 with five RBIs. Both his home runs have put the Yankees ahead.

“It’s been fun,” Verdugo said. “To hear the crowd out there barking, to see everybody kind of running with it has been a lot of fun. Who doesn’t like to bark, right?”

Verdugo made his big league debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017 and was acquired by the Red Sox in the Mookie Betts trade in February 2020. He hit .264 with 13 homers, 54 RBIs and a .745 OPS for Boston last season and was benched twice by manager Alex Cora for not hustling and arriving late to the ballpark.

“It’s been a very easy transition,” Verdugo said. “Playing against a lot of these guys for a long time, I respected their careers and what they’ve done. Coming over here, they’ve done a really good job of welcoming me and letting me be me and letting me be myself. I think just with that I’m able to show my energy and be myself.”

As for what kind of dog Verdugo would be, it depends on production in any given game.

“Oh man, I don’t know,” Verdugo said. “We kind of joke every day, it’s a baby chihuahua. We start with a baby bark and the more damage you do, the bass starts going a little deeper and you start turning into a big dog. So every day it’s a little dog and if you do something, it’s a big dog.”


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