Outfielder Shane Victorino was scratched from the Boston Red Sox starting lineup, yesterday, with an injury to his ribs. MassLive.com‘s Christopher Smith reported that “the rib soreness is a result of Friday when he crashed into the wall to try to catch a ball that ended up being a 317-foot home run by Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell told the media, “We’ll check him in the morning on his availability.”
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At this point, nobody can say Farrell is not loyal to his veteran players. Let’s forget the soreness to Victorino’s ribs for a second. The man is hitting just .125, after deciding not to go back to switch-hitting like he has done successfully for most of his career. His decision was made out of having more success sticking to the right-hand side of the plate. That success isn’t even over the .200 mark. The majority of Victorino’s .300 on-base percentage is because he has walked five times.
Talk about a slow start, and that’s before the sore ribs.
Between outfielders Mookie Betts, Brock Holt, and Daniel Nava, Victorino seems like that children’s game where they sing ‘One of these things is not like the others. One of these things doesn’t belong’. In 19 at-bats, the utility player Holt is hitting .579, with 5 RBIs and a stolen base. He even went 3-for-4, yesterday, in the game that Victorino was scratched from against the Baltimore Orioles. Nava, Victorino’s replacement in right field, may not have been as successful as Holt, so far, but the lefty bat has been more successful than the Hawaiian, hitting .263 and 5 RBIs. Betts may only be hitting .209 in 43 at-bats, but his 2 home runs, 8 RBIs, 3 stolen bases, and stellar defense in center field have made a significant impact on the team and the league, itself.
Mar 24, 2015; Jupiter, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Rusney Castillo (38) at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
That’s not even counting Rusney Castillo, the Cuban outfielder playing in Triple-A Pawtucket. His outstanding potential, especially his power, has many Red Sox fans wondering when the young man will take the step to start full-time in the big club’s outfield. With Betts moving to right field, Castillo playing center, and veteran powerhouse Hanley Ramirez in left, Boston could have the most potent outfield in the majors.
That time may be coming soon.
Ted Leshinski of CBS Sports reported, yesterday, that “[Castillo] was spotted playing catch Saturday at Fenway Park under supervision of the team doctor, but no timetable for his return to Triple-A has been announced, reports ProvidenceJournal.com. Castillo sustained [a] shoulder injury while trying to make a diving catch in a game on April 11.” There is no structural damage to the shoulder, and the rehabilitation is merely a cautionary one. However, when was the last time that you saw another Triple-A player get an injury, where they monitor his progress at Fenway?
Jimmy Toscano of CSNNE.com reported Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington discussing Castillo’s progress in making it to the majors: “I think clearly given the investment, and more importantly given what we’ve seen from him since we’ve signed him last summer, over the winter, and into spring training we feel like this guy is going to be a very good major league player. So it is just a matter of opportunity and we don’t know exactly when that opportunity is going to open up, but inevitably it will.” Well, when you see that Castillo has five hits, two RBIs, and a stolen base in only 3 games for Pawtucket, not counting his .500 slugging percentage, you have to wonder if that time is now.
Castillo will have to return to Triple-A to do some serious raking before any callup. Farrell’s commitment to his veterans should keep Victorino in right field, once his ribs feel better. However, with the overwhelming evidence that the bench and minor system has more successful outfielders than Victorino, at this point in his career, how long can he stay in right field? Soreness or not, Victorino may be scratched more often in the foreseeable future.
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