Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts has no problem sitting behind Shane Victorino

John Tomase
February 20, 2015 - 9:03 am
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FORT MYERS, Fla. '€“ John Farrell says a healthy Shane Victorino is his Opening Day right fielder. You'll never guess who agrees with him. Mookie Betts. The player presumably most affected by Farrell's statement wants to make two things clear. One, there's no animosity between him and Victorino. And two, he can't dispute anything Farrell said. "Shane Victorino is Shane Victorino," Betts told WEEI.com on Friday. "He's a Gold Glover. He's won the World Series, had huge hits in the World Series. I completely understand that. That doesn't hurt my feelings at all." If anything bothers Betts, just a little, it's the perception that the competition for the right field job has driven a wedge between the two. The fact is, the veteran admires the youngster and has worked with him to improve his game. "I have no problem being behind him, watching him go," Betts said. "He has taught me, and he's still teaching me, even though people are trying to make it like we have a big rivalry going on or something. I feel like we're brothers, the way we talk. Nothing's changed between me and him. The first time I met him, I asked him a bunch of questions, and I'm still asking him questions. "I have nothing bad to say about anything to do with him. At the end of the day, it's not about me and Vic. It's about the Red Sox. I think we both have that in our vision. We were talking earlier. It's just about winning. Whether it's me or him (starting), I just would love to be a part of winning a World Series." The irony of the situation is that if there's a player who reminds Victorino of his young self, it's Betts. And to hear Red Sox personnel discuss Betts, it's easy to think they're talking about Victorino. Both play with a fearlessness belying their size, both can make things happen on the bases, both are table setters atop the order, and both bring an edge. Betts discussed his admiration for Victorino's toughness and swagger. "He's kind of inadvertently shown me that," he said. "I've picked that up just watching him playing. I've taken that into my game, I feel like." Betts recognizes what Victorino has accomplished during an All-Starcareer that includes four Gold Gloves and a pair of World Series titles, which is why he won't throw a tantrum if he ends up sitting behind the veteran. "I still have a long way to go," Betts said. "He's where he needs to be, that's why he's been around for so long. I see what it takes. He's showing me the steps of what it takes. That's the type of person he is, the type of player he is." Both players want the starting job. Victorino has made no secret that he believes it's his. But they're not rooting against each other, as often happens when a veteran is pitted against a youngster. "It says a lot," Betts said. "Going in, I didn't know what to expect. But now that I've gotten to talk to him '€“ I didn't act any way at all, and he hasn't acted any way at all. It's just like we've always been. We both talked, no matter what, let's win. Whatever it takes is what it takes. He said, 'If it takes me sitting and helping you and guiding you the way, that's perfect.' And if it takes me sitting and watching him and doing what he does, that's fine with me as well. "As long as we win and both get better, that's the main thing."

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