Alex Verdugo didn't hesitate to say when asked if he expects to be the starting center fielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers in spring training.
But it's easy to understand why he's feeling a little uncomfortable about that.
Verdugo was traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Dodgers earlier this month as part of a package that brought the Chicago White Sox's Jose Abreu and Felipe Paulino to Arizona.
On one hand, Verdugo is thrilled about playing in the National League West with the Dodgers, who face star-studded Arizona, Colorado and San Francisco.
On the other hand, he's being jilted by the team that acquired him from the Diamondbacks in July, when he played with Arizona center fielder David Peralta.
Verdugo isn't worried. "It's great," he said. "It's a great opportunity. I'm really excited to play for this team."
But he's feeling the pressure, and it's easy to see why he's cautious. You know, the high expectations that come along with being a top prospect selected by the Dodgers in the first round of the 2016 draft.
"I know it's going to be more scrutiny and more pressure because I came over here to get something and it's going to take more work and will be harder to get it," he said. "But I have to go out there and be who I am and do the same thing I did at Arizona and do the same thing that I did when I went to St. Louis and St. Louis did it."
Last season was an unusual one for Verdugo. He had to fight for playing time in Arizona, and after he was optioned to triple-A Reno in May, he struggled. He missed six weeks with a hip injury.
The injury also led to the loss of his spot on the Dominican Republic's World Baseball Classic team, and once he was available, the Dodgers picked him up. It didn't hurt that Verdugo had three home runs, 12 RBIs and 16 walks with a .450 on-base percentage while appearing in 93 games.
Now, he'll have to be an every-day player with the Dodgers if he wants to make the team and stick around for more than the one- or two-year contracts that begin this season.
"I know I have to make an impression, do well and show that I belong and that I belong here," he said.
Lacking NLCS experience is something that concerns Verdugo. So is the pressure of being in the major leagues at the age of 22 and trying to be the leading impact player for the Dodgers.
"I'm ready," he said. "I can't wait. I've been training and I'm sure I'm ready."