Shane Victorino is on track to return to switch-hitting in 2015. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

John Farrell says 'it's likely' Shane Victorino returns to switch-hitting this season

Mike Petraglia
February 26, 2015 - 10:29 am
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- If all goes as planned, Shane Victorino will return to switch-hitting this season. Red Sox manager John Farrell said Thursday that he and the staff have talked to the outfielder about the plan, which will include spring training at-bats from the left side of the plate. Victorino gave up hitting left-handed late in the 2013 season when he injured his hip running into a wall while chasing a fly ball along the right field line. "It's likely that he hits left-handed in games," Farrell said. "If you think back to '13 late in the year, he switched solely to the right side because of some physical restrictions. With those being freed up now, the left side of the plate comes back into play." In 2014, force to hit right-handed against right-handed pitching, he managed to bat just .241 with a .283 on-base percentage in 90 plate appearances over 27 games. Lifetime, Victorino is .268 hitter with a .329 on-base percentage as a left-handed batter against right-handed pitching. Farrell said the work will begin as soon as possible so Victorino can get up to game speed with left-handed hitting. "Every guy is going to be a little bit different. He's going to take all the extra work that he can physically tolerate. I think until we get into games, it'll probably be a better read on how many number of at-bats left-handed it would require [in spring training]. But if you think about two years ago in '13 in spring training, I don't know if he got a hit in spring training. Open up in New York, he's got three line drive base hits the first day of season. So again, it's a matter of getting comfortable with that side of the plate, taking some pitches and taking some at-bats. "What I would hate to see happen is that here's a nine-year major league veteran who has switch-hit the entire time all of sudden be solely one-sided. There was a reason why he hit left-handed to begin with, and that was to better attack right-handed pitching. And that's what's he's fortunately able to put himself in that position to do physically." Here are more takeaways from John Farrell on Thursday: On Day 2 of full squad workouts, featuring Clay Buchholz and Rick Porcello throwing to batters: "It was thorough. We had a chance to continue to address some defensive fundamentals. Having a chance to see five guys to throw on Field 3 was a very encouraging day from just a pitcher's standpoint. But it's about getting timing right now. And that's for our hitters to start seeing live pitching. Pitchers are still trying to get their timing and deliveries set or a little bit more refined. And with the exception of [outfielder] Bryce Brentz's [knee] situation from yesterday, we come out of today fully healthy." On advice to Buchholz, Porcello and other pitchers throwing to batters: "Pitch to contact. Every pitch that they throw we've got the idea of throwing a first strike, regardless of the type of pitch. Even though a hitter is going to see five pitches or so, take five swings, we want the pitcher to think it's the first pitch of the at-bat, where you're executing first-pitch strikes. So, it's strike-oriented. You're using all your pitch mix for the first time seeing hitters and you're seeing how hitters react to the stuff you're throwing to the plate." "They're getting ready for the start of the season. Today's progression with hitters, you're starting to see things start to sharpen up a little bit, the consistency to the location of pitches. If they misfire on a pitch, you're starting to see than adjustment is made in one to two pitches. Those are all natural and quality steps towards games beginning next week." On Mike Napoli telling Clay Buchholz that his pitches "look like Advils" coming out of his hands: "Hopefully that changes soon for Nap. I think anytime a teammate can give feedback to a guy that's on the mound... rarely do you have the ability to talk a hitter after you've just thrown to him. You're certainly not going to talk to an opponent. So to get the perspective, particularly in the American League where pitchers don't hit, sometimes pitchers can fall into a situation where they give the opposition too much credit and try to be perfect or too fine. So by getting that kind of feedback, maybe it's a little bit more trusting in the stuff that Clay has and pitch on the plate rather to the edge so much." This and that: Buchholz threw to Napoli and Dustin Pedroia while Porcello pitched to David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez. Ortiz did not take any swings and neither did Pedroia. The Red Sox will work earlier Friday morning, in advance of taking off for the annual charity golf tournament Friday afternoon.

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