Shane Victorino‘s message to the media prior to Saturday night’s game against Kansas City was both simple and direct:
He is not going to be the savior for this team.
However, he can certainly play a big part in a second-half turnaround for the Red Sox.
“I’m not the guy, I’m not the answer,” Victorino said. “I’m not the guy that’s going to carry the load, but I’m going to try to be as good as I can be and help this team win.”
The 33-year-old outfielder was called back up to Boston Saturday after being sidelined since May 24 with a hamstring injury. Victorino — who hit .242 with one home run and 10 RBIs in just 21 games with the Red Sox this season – had a long and frustrating road back to the big leagues, suffering multiple setbacks with both his hamstring and his back injury while rehabbing in Pawtucket.
After being on the shelf for almost two months, Victorino acknowledged that he was excited to finally be back out patrolling the Fenway outfield going forward.
“It’s what it’s all about,” Victorino said. “You work hard, you try to do what you got to do to get back as quick as you can. Unfortunately, there were some setbacks, but I’m here, I’m at this point where I worked hard to get back to where I’m at. As I said, I’m just going to continue to work hard and try to be the best player I can be and go out there and do what I can to help make this team better.”
Victorino played six games with Triple-A Pawtucket over an almost month-long stretch following his hamstring injury. The ailing outfielder was shut down from June 24 through Wednesday due to multiple hindrances to his rehab, but after playing a total of 16 innings over Wednesday and Thursday’s games with the PawSox and showing no physical limitations, Victorino was ready for the call back up to Boston.
“He’s played the last couple of days consecutively in Pawtucket,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell before Saturday’s game. “Anytime we get [Victorino] back into our lineup, it’s going to give us a boost, and that’s not short-changing anyone else that’s here or has been here, but [Victorino's] defense in right field has been well-documented on how well he plays it, the energy he brings, the intelligence on the basepaths. The thing that we’ll continue to balance going forward is how many consecutive days will he play initially and monitor that day in and day out.”
Farrell, who added that he expects the initial workload for Victorino to be around five games a week, said that it’s tough to gauge what kind of production the outfielder could have given the team during his injury, but focused more on the positives of what Victorino could bring the Red Sox during the stretch run this season.
“It’s hard to say what his production would have been over those two months, but you take a Gold-Glove right fielder who probably played to the peak of his career last year and it’s been a loss, so all we can do is focus on today and going forward and we’ve got a very good player back to us,” Farrell said.
The Red Sox have finally shown some signs of life recently, winning five out of their last six games. While Victorino’s skills both at the plate (.294/.351/.451 in 2013) and in the field (25.0 UZR in 2013) could make a major impact on the team, Victorino again remained adamant that he’s is not here to be the guy that saves the season for the Red Sox.
He just wants to be Shane Victorino.
“I’m just going to be myself,’ Victorino said. “I don’t know what they’ve missed, what I haven’t added to the team, all I can say is that I’m going to go out there and be the best player I can be and have fun doing it. I’ve been watching from afar with pom-poms in my hands, trying to be the best cheerleader I can and keep these guys as positive as they can.
‘They’ve done a great job. The thing I love about this team is that they’ll never give up, and that’s the one thing, coming back to this team, I just want to be a piece of that and a part of that. As I’ve said, I don’t want to try to be the savior; I don’t want to try to put all the load on my back. As a player, you want to go out there and have fun, and that’s what I’m excited to do.”
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