Victorino Ready To Play for Sox
Boston Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino (18) stretches on the field before a spring training baseball game against his former team, the Philadelphia Phillies, in Clearwater, Fla., Sunday, March 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz stretches in left field before an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Fort Myers, Fla., Saturday, March 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Fort Myers, Fla. — In Shane Victorino’s perfect world, he’d be spending Thursday afternoon at Bright House Field going through a workout with the other core members of the Phillies while a team of mostly reserves makes the long bus ride to Jet Blue Park, the two-year-old Fenway Park replica where the Boston Red Sox play their spring-training games.
That would mean the Flyin’ Hawaiian was still a member of the Phillies, the team with which he so badly wanted to finish his career. It would also mean the Phils wanted him as badly as he wanted to remain with them, which was not the case.
So instead, Victorino was, for the first time since 2003 and only the second time in his career, facing the Phillies as an opponent. Victorino was with San Diego in 2003.
“It’s different for me after spending all those years there,” Victorino admitted after a morning workout with the Red Sox. “It’s always going to be a special place to me. Looking across and seeing Charlie (Manuel), who was my manager from day one and gave me the opportunity to be the player that I am ... I think it’s going to be fun to be able to play against those guys.”
Victorino, 32, may not be living in his perfect world, but he has no complaints about the life he is leading. After being dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers by general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. at the trade deadline last season, Victorino hit the free-agent market and signed a three-year, $39 million deal with Boston that has given him the peace of mind that was sorely lacking at the start of last season. He will play mostly right field for the Red Sox, who like the Phillies are trying to bounce back from an abysmal 2012 season.
Last month, former Phillies hitting instructor Greg Gross said that Victorino allowed stalled spring-training contract negotiations to consume his thinking early last season when the Phillies were already missing Ryan Howard and Chase Utley because of injuries.
Victorino confirmed that was the case. He hit .228 in April and spent the rest of the season trying to dig out of a hole.
“I think there was a lot on my plate last year,” Victorino said. “The contract situation, we talked about it early on in camp ... and we never really got the ball rolling. I let it get to me. That’s my fault — nobody else’s.
“Then I got off to the start that I did and I tried to catch up and the next thing I knew it felt like the whole world was on top of me.”
By the trade deadline, Victorino knew his days with the Phillies were numbered. He was disappointed, but understood why the Phillies were more interested in signing Cole Hamels to a long-term deal than him.
The move that stunned Victorino was the Phillies’ decision to trade Hunter Pence to San Francisco.
“That one caught me off guard,” Victorino said. “I knew with the way we were playing that it was just a matter of time for me. But Hunter (being traded) shocked me. They brought him in to be their everyday rightfielder and then after a year you trade him. What made them decide to do that, I don’t know. Obviously it worked out well for him.”
Still, things have worked out quite well for Victorino, He loves his new teammates and can’t wait to be part of the Red Sox history and the rivalry with the New York Yankees.
He’s also looking forward to playing against the Phillies in a home-and-home series during the regular season.
“I don’t want to jinx myself, but I think it’s going to be good,” Victorino said. “Throughout the process of free agency, my family and I talked about how Philly will always be home. What we did as an organization and being part of that core, it’s something that will always be in people’s minds.
“It was a great time in Phillies baseball and I hope it continues and that last year was just a bump in the road for them.”