Boston Red Sox Catching up with old friends: Shane Victorino


You know that nostalgic feeling that you get when catching up with an old friend that you haven’t seen for a while? This offseason the BoSox Injection staff will be checking up on a number of former Red Sox players to see what they have been up to since leaving Boston, while reflecting on how the team has managed to replace them since they left.

The Red Sox are now two years removed from the magical 2013 season that saw that rise from the bottom of the AL East to become world champions out of nowhere. There were a ton of factors and contributors that led to their success that year including the acquisition of the “Flyin’ Hawaiian” Shane Victorino. After eight solid seasons with the Phillies and a short stint with the Dodgers, Ben Cherington signed the veteran Victorino to a three year deal worth 39 million dollars.

Fans were skeptical at first due to the large chunk of money that the Sox would be giving to a 32 year old who was coming off a down year in 2012. Also, with Jacoby Ellsbury cemented in center-field, Victorino would be asked to play one of the more difficult right fields in baseball. Ian Browne wrote about the signing on at the time. For the Boston front office, the positives were getting a reliable veteran presence who could offer some timely hitting and speed on the base paths.

What Victorino ended up bringing to the table in 2013 is invaluable and cannot be calculated through analyzing numbers alone. He became a team leader who was respected throughout the clubhouse and was accountable with the media. It’s important to remember that the Sox were just one year removed from unloading the contractual burdens that were Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Adrain Gonzalez. The fans loved his hard work and the effort he displayed at the plate and in the field. There is no doubt he became a fan favorite with the Fenway faithful belting out Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” as Victorino approached the plate late in the season.

Boston’s magic continued through the postseason and the rest is history. He finished the season hitting .294 with 61 RBI, 15 HR and a WAR of 6.1 (second on the team to only Dustin Pedroia at 6.3). This season proved Cherington’s bold moves had paid off. However, the re-energized Victorino was at his peak with Boston in 2013 and he was about to start his descent. Whether it was simply catching “lightning in a bottle” at the right time or the long grind of a hard-fought season and postseason, Shane just couldn’t keep it up in 2014.

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Victorino only played thirty games in the 2014 season that saw Boston fall back down to Earth and crumble to last place once again. In 123 at-bats, he hit .268 with twelve RBI and two homeruns. He just couldn’t stay on the field due to a variety of ailments mostly consisting of leg and back issues. His lack of production in 2014 led to rumors in the offseason of a trade, but there was really no market due to his lack of participation.

Boston brought him back to start 2015, but once again Shane couldn’t remain healthy for a long enough stretch to make any kind of impact. With Boston struggling again and having a crowded outfield, the Red Sox traded Victorino in late July to the LA Angels for infielder Josh Rutledge. Rutledge was certainly not in line to get any playing time for Boston, but with the Red Sox in the midst of another losing season and needing time to see exactly what they had in their younger players, the move made sense. Boston wanted to see what they had in the young trio of Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr, and it paid off as these budding outfielders shined in the latter part of the season.

While Victorino did get to contribute more for the Angels who were in the hunt for a playoff spot, he still never really hit his stride there either. He hit .214 with only three RBI and no homeruns (he only hit one for Boston in 2015) in 84 at-bats in LA. The change of scenery couldn’t overcome the rustiness from missing so much time over the course of the last two seasons for Victorino.

In the end, the Angels missed the playoffs, so we did not get to witness any postseason magic from the Flyin’ Hawaiian yet again. His future remains up in the air now that the contract that Boston signed him to has officially come to an end. Most MLB analysts do not see him staying with the Angels. Unfortunately for Victorino, he’s 35 years old and has now missed large chunks of time in the last two seasons, so finding a good landing spot could prove to be a challenge. Only Victorino knows how much he truly has left in the tank, and if he has anything at all, it may be best to find a team where he can play on a one year deal to prove himself. We all know that Shane still has a ton of love for the Phillies, so maybe he ends his career there. Only time will tell. But I have a feeling that Shane won’t “worry about a thing…’cause every little thing gonna be alright!”

“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 that any athlete wants to face. 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.”

One thing is for certain – when Red Sox fans think back on the epic 2013 championship season, Shane Victorino’s success and hard work will most definitely be a large part of those memories. And Victorino will most likely never forget his time here either. ESPN’s Gordon Edes quoted Victorino during his “goodbye press conference” which I think says it best:
“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 that any athlete wants to face. 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.”

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