FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘ After sitting out the previous spring training games, it didn’t take long for Shane Victorino to pick up where he left off in 2013.
The outfielder ‘ who has been nursing a sore back for much of camp ‘ was plunked by a Jake Odorizzi fastball in his very first at-bat. And in case you forget, this comes after he finished ‘13 with an American League-leading 18 hit-by-pitches.
Oh, and the surgically-repaired right thumb also held up just fine through Victorino’s two at-bat day. (He struck out in his only other plate appearance.)
‘My hand feels good, BP, everything feels good,’ he said after the Red Sox‘ 6-2 win over the Rays Monday at JetBlue Park. ‘Obviously hit the first pitch. That was fun. It just told me that I guess I am pretty close to the plate. Second at-bat, ball looked like it was all in. I went back and looked at the video, the ball was right down the middle. I think it’s about timing and getting back out there. But again, it is my first day so I’m not really sitting here ‘¦ I think the physical being is more important, and I feel good.’
‘Obviously this is what you do. This is what you prepare for, he added. ‘As I said, to be out there with the guys, they’ve been doing their thing. It’s been nice. I’ve been itchy and antsy to get out there myself. To finally be out there today was great. I’m excited.’
In all, Victorino got a chance to play three innings in the field.
‘To be out there, yeah, it was three innings. But to get a ball I had to go and get in right field, running the bases, you know, again, I think now it’s a matter of doing the motion of baserunning, swinging, getting out of the box,’ he explained. ‘Physically that part is behind me. I feel good at the end of the day so that’s for me a positive from a medical standpoint. We feel like that was a positive for us was to see, and obviously we’ll see how I feel tomorrow obviously being in baseball activities.’
One thing that Victorino wasn’t excited to discuss after the game was the decision to hit right-handed against a right-handed pitcher. The outfielder has said he hasn’t closed the book on switch-hitting, and doesn’t want to commit one way or another going right now.
‘There’s no answer,’ he said. ‘I feel like you guys all are trying to get an answer. There’s no answer yet. If I had known, I would have answered it. If John [Farrell] had known, he would have answered it. I think you guys keep beating that drum. For me, that’s the part where I’m just like, ‘OK. it’s something that I don’t even know.’ I’m working through the process.’
For Farrell, there were no surprises.
‘There wasn’t probably any doubt he was going to hit right-handed,’ the Sox manager said. ‘He’s hit a little bit in the cage left-handed. I don’t think he’s completely abandoning the left side of the plate. If that’s the approach taken, we’re certainly accepting of it.’