FORT MYERS, Fla. — At last, an Alex Verdugo sighting.
The former Dodgers outfielder, the top prospect coming to the Red Sox in the Mookie Betts deal, made his first appearance Friday morning at JetBlue Park and was seen chatting with new teammates Jackie Bradley Jr. and Kevin Pillar while pitchers and catchers were going through their brief workout.
Neither Verdugo nor Pillar participated in any workouts, and Verdugo was not in the clubhouse during media availability periods.
Pillar, a former Blue Jays outfielder, could be playing in place of Verdugo in the outfield at the beginning of the season if Verdugo’s balky back puts him on the shelf. Pillar, joining the team as a free agent, moved his stuff into a stall in the locker room early Friday. After reviewing his physical, the Red Sox made the one-year, $4.25-million deal official later in the day.
The 23-year-old Verdugo also spent Friday undergoing physical evaluation by Red Sox doctors. Verdugo was shut down by the Dodgers in early August last season because of the back issues.
“Right now he’s with our medical group, going through things to see where we’re at,’’ Sox interim manager Ron Roenicke said after the workout.
Roenicke was asked if he could comment on Thursday’s Globe report that Verdugo might not be ready on Opening Day.
“Not yet, because I hate to make a comment and it comes back later wrong,” said Roenicke. “I think he needs to go through everything with them [doctors], and I know it’s been quite a while. They really want to get a good feel for him. They don’t know him, which makes a big difference, so they’ll talk to him, figure out where we are and at what point we can start going through with whatever — whether it’s baseball activities, stretching activity. I’ll know a lot more tomorrow.”
Regarding the prospect of Pillar joining the roster, Roenicke said, “Nothing’s finalized. He’s aggressive, knows how to play the game. I thought he gave his team a real nice at-bat when he came to the plate in big situations.’’
Pillar, 31, played six seasons for the Jays before joining the Giants in 2019. He is a career .264 hitter with a good glove.
“We know he doesn’t mind crashing into walls,’’ said Roenicke. “He knows how to play. It would be nice to have that righthanded bat out there if everything checks out.’’
Chris Sale, battling pneumonia, did not work out with the team but was expected to report to Sox doctors Friday afternoon . . . Red Sox owners are scheduled to be at JetBlue Park Monday for the first full-squad workout . . . The Sox’ annual charity golf tournament is Tuesday . . . Crowds at JetBlue have been sparse but are expected to swell next week when school is out in Massachusetts . . . Jeter Downs, the infield prospect the Sox acquired from the Dodgers, was bumped from the locker stall between J.D. Martinez and Mitch Moreland to make room for Pillar. Downs is now nestled between outfielder Jarren Duran and infielder Jose Peraza . . . Pillar played 156 games for the Giants last year, but he’s still using his Blue Jays equipment bag . . . Get well soon to WBZ’s intrepid Jonny Miller, who was inducted into the New England Broadcast Hall of Fame last September. Miller, who has been covering the Red Sox in spring training since the early 1970s, fell ill at Thursday’s workout and is recovering at a local hospital.