Shane Victorino had stated all along that he preferred to finish what he started here in Boston rather than be shipped to a contender at the trade deadline. When the news finally came that he had been dealt the the Los Angeles Angels, the veteran outfielder showed how much he meant those words.
An emotional Victorino sat before reporters Monday night to bid farewell to a city that has been his home for the past three seasons. With tears in his eyes, the 34-year old discussed what it meant to him to be given the chance to come to Boston and help bring another championship to a city that embraced him from the start.
"“People doubted me in 2012,” said Victorino, alluding to the year that he was traded from the Phillies to the Dodgers, who let him walk as a free agent at the end of the season. “The Red Sox gave me a chance to win a World Series. I have nothing but respect for John Henry, Larry Lucchino, Tom [Werner], again, Ben [Cherington], John [Farrell]. More important, my teammates. I mean, I’m going to miss them. That’s the toughest part.”"
Boston signed Victorino to a three-year, $39 million free agent deal prior to the 2013 season. He paid immediate dividends, hitting .294/.351/.451 in his first season with the Red Sox, posting a 6.1 WAR and winning a Gold Glove for his stellar right field defense. He played a key role in Boston’s World Series run, securing his legacy as a Red Sox hero.
Since that initial season in Boston it has been a struggle for Victorino, who has seen his production plummet amid being limited to a total of 63 games due to injury over the past two seasons. Victorino expressed his regret for not being able to take the field more often during his time here, but injuries are an unfortunate aspect of the game that are often unavoidable. It’s not Victorino’s fault that his body betrayed him.
"“What am I going to be remembered as in a city like this? I hope people remember me one way and understand injuries are not something any athlete wants to face,” said Victorino. “I hope I’ll be remembered for what happened in ’13. We use that slogan that will always be a part of us: Boston Strong.”"
Victorino was overcome with emotion when asked if he would be taking his walk-up music with him to Anaheim. Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” became a comforting anthem for Red Sox Nation in the wake of the Marathon bombings in 2013, with its hopeful lyrics proclaiming that “every little thing is gonna be all right.” A chorus of Red Sox fans would sing along every time Victorino approached the plate, so out of respect for those fans he intends to switch to a new song when he switches teams. That particular walk-up song belongs to Boston as far as he’s concerned, showing it has meant as much to him as it has to the fans.
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GM Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell both described Victorino as one of the most passionate players they have ever seen, which made it all the more difficult to let him go. In the end, moving on from Victorino is what’s best for everyone. The Red Sox will give his playing time to young players expected to have a future with the franchise, while Victorino will get a chance to chase another World Series ring.
Victorino will always be remembered more for what he did as a World Series hero than what he didn’t do during his last two injury plagued seasons. He was clearly devastated by the trade, but those emotions will soon be pushed aside by the heat of a pennant race. As difficult as moving on must be, Victorino must keep one thing in mind.
Every little thing is gonna be all right.