Good times roll on for Victorino with Red Sox

After homering, Shane Victorino is met at the plate by Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. Playing in Philly "was a special time for me, a big part of my career, and made me who I am," Victorino said.
After homering, Shane Victorino is met at the plate by Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. Playing in Philly "was a special time for me, a big part of my career, and made me who I am," Victorino said. (Getty Images)
Posted: September 03, 2013

BOSTON - After a disastrous 69-93 season, the Boston Red Sox are back among the elite in the American League, winning and earning admiration for their scrappy play.

The Sox, who lead the American League with 82 wins, are comparable to a team that captivated the Philadelphia region for a five-year period.

"This team reminds me of our teams in Philly, grinding it out, never giving up," said Sox rightfielder Shane Victorino, who appeared in all 46 of the Phillies' games during their five straight postseason appearances from 2007 to 2011.

The Red Sox were criticized when they signed Victorino to a three-year, $39 million free-agent contract in the offseason, especially after he hit a combined .255 with the Phillies and the Los Angeles Dodgers last year. But nobody in Boston is complaining now.

Victorino, 32, is hitting .295 with 12 home runs, 51 RBIs, 71 runs, 18 stolen bases and a .798 slugging-plus-on-base percentage as the No. 2 hitter in the order.

"I think through the example and energy he brings, he has injected a lot of life into us," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

The belief that the Red Sox showed in Victorino has been rewarded.

"I came here not having the greatest of years last year, but the Red Sox looked at me and my track record, the run we were able to have with the Phillies," Victorino said Friday before the Red Sox beat the Chicago White Sox, 4-3, at Fenway Park.

That run included a World Series title in 2008, two National League pennants, and five division championships.

"We played the game correctly, we played it hard, we were a fun bunch of guys, always smiling and having a good time," Victorino said of those Phillies teams. "I look back and it was a special time for me, a big part of my career, and made me who I am."

Victorino still keeps up with the Phillies and he was saddened to hear that his former manager Charlie Manuel was fired on Aug. 16 and replaced by interim manager Ryne Sandberg.

"Charlie was a very special man," Victorino said. "He allowed me to be the player I am today and he was a big part of my development."

Not all has been smooth this season for Victorino, especially in the injury department. He was on the disabled list with a hamstring injury from May 21 to June 8 and missed four games against the Phillies, two in Boston and two at Citizens Bank Park.

Even though he didn't play, the Phillies gave him a video tribute at Citizens Bank Park, which was followed by a standing ovation.

"It was touching," Victorino said.

A switch-hitter, Victorino has been batting only from the right side since a 4-0 win over Arizona on Aug. 4.

Victorino has been dealing with a left hamstring injury and it has bothered him when batting lefthanded. Yet as a righthanded batter against righthanded pitching, he was hitting .333 (17 for 51) with three home runs and six RBIs entering Sunday.

Farrell said that Victorino has not abandoned switch-hitting, but the outfielder would not say whether he plans to return to batting lefthanded against righties this year.

"That's for me to know and you not to know," he said with a smile.

Farrell called Victorino a complete player, pointing out that he has provided "the stealing capability, and has been a well-above-average defender and a good offensive player."

And just like the old days, Victorino is serving as a catalyst near the top of the batting order, a player intent on reliving the good times from Philadelphia during the postseason in Boston.


Contact Marc Narducci at mnarducci@phillynews.com. Follow @sjnard on Twitter.

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