Red Sox to start Victorino in right, Castillo in Pawtucket
Back in February, Red Sox manager John Farrell commented that, if healthy, Shane Victorino would be Boston’s right fielder. Over a month later, Farrell has stayed true to that promise and all but confirmed that he would be penciling Victorino into the right field slot on Opening Day, leaving high-profile Cuban signee Rusney Castillo as the likely candidate to start the season in Triple-A.
"The biggest thing to me was health.Â Getting back to close to 100 percent of what Shane Victorino is. He’s an impact player and myself included we haven’t forgotten what he’s done for us.But at the same time we’re looking at what he brings to our team and that’s a guy who is a very smart, intelligent baseball player who plays [all out] and he’s going to help give a personality to our team."
Victorino has hardly been stellar this spring, slashing .188/.278/.250, but any seasoned baseball fan can tell you how much spring training stats mean. The most important factor for Victorino’s performance isÂ a full recovery from the season-ending back surgery that he underwent last season.
A myriad of injuries limitedÂ Victorino to only a .268/.303/.382 slash line in 30 games, but we all know that Victorino is a significantly better player than that. Just two years ago, he slashed .294/.351/.451 and was arguably the most valuable player on a World Series team. With two polarizing seasons in Boston for Victorino, it’s tough to know what to expect but, as veterans shouldn’t lose their job due to injuries, it makes sense to start him.
On the flip side, all signs point to Castillo being major league ready as well. The 27-year old has been incredibly impressive this spring after returning from a strained oblique, hitting .310/.310/.621 this spring (though, once again, that means nothing) while looking great defensively.
However, Boston’s opening 25-man roster is hardly a condemning of Castillo. Injuries happen and the Red Sox outfield logjam will undoubtedly thin out in the coming weeks, with Castillo likely the first man to be promoted. The Red Sox should be able to create a successful outfield situation, even with so many viable starters, this season to create a winning formula in their star-studded lineup. Starting Victorino in right field while demoting Castillo might not be the right move from a performance perspective, but it will all work itself out and Castillo will see plenty of MLB action this season.