A very motivated Shane Victorino arrived in Fort Myers Wednesday (WEEI.com photo)

Meet the most motivated spring training arrival of all-time, Shane Victorino

Rob Bradford
February 18, 2015 - 11:07 am

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Wearing a Bob Marley t-shirt while big red headphones, Shane Victorino walked into JetBlue Park 2:30 p.m., having come straight from de-boarding his flight from Philadelphia. His entrance was a week before position players are required to report, the earliest he had ever arrived at spring training in his big league career. But as he stopped and talked, it was clear the impetus behind the early arrival. "I've never been more motivated, more determined to prove something," Victorino said in a sit-down interview with WEEI.com. "People might say as a veteran of almost 10 years why do you have to prove anything. But it's more than proving. It's understanding that I still love what I do. A back surgery is not going to be a reason why my career ends. It's going to be a lot more than that to not play this game." The always energetic Victorino appeared even more amped up than usual, seemingly letting an offseason of anticipation come out upon entering his latest spring training. The 34-year-old said that has absolutely no physical limitations after undergoing his back surgery last summer, hitting camp ready to go from Day 1. "I've never felt this good, confident," he noted. "I've left no regrets this offseason. If something happens I've left no regrets I know in my mind I left no regrets to second guess what I didn't do to prepare myself. That, to me, is the biggest factor, that I have done everything that was asked and everything that was drawn up for me, if not more, to push myself and feel that way about myself." Then there is the other part of the equation, locking up his starting spot in right field. With Hanley Ramirez entrenched in left field, it would appear as though Victorino would be vying for playing time in center and right with Rusney Castillo and Mookie Betts. The way he sees it, however, health -- not another player -- should be his only roadblock to a return to the Red Sox' lineup. "Everybody is going to jump on what's hot. Everybody is going to jump on the bandwagon of what everyone's talking about," Victorino said. "And that's the kind of stuff I use as motivation. Again, I'm the biggest advocate of Mookie Betts. I want to see him succeed. Do I want to see him succeed him in front of me? Absolutely not because that means I don't get to play. But I want to see him have a great career. "It hasn't been talked about but what is the biggest concern for these guys is showing that I'm healthy. If I show I'm healthy I don't think there's any reason why they wouldn't pencil me to be the starting right fielder. That's the biggest thing. I can talk all day long about this or that, but it means nothing unless I go out there and prove them I'm healthy and I go out and do what I love." Here are some other highlights from the Victorino interview (with more to come on WEEI.com): Has he ever been this motivated? "I chuckle a little bit because, no, I never have been, and I think for more reasons than one. People talk about age and people talk about those factors, and that's the kind of stuff where I sit there and realize guys are signing contracts at 37 and 38 years go and you're counting out a guy at 34 years old who people are talking about being old and not being the same guy I was. I've motivated myself like I was a 22 year old kid again. "I can sit here all day long about what I feel and how I feel, my opinions, but I think more importantly what I did this offseason in regards to being motivated and being pushed. Did it take major back surgery? Sometimes it's those kind of things that push you to your limitations. You don't understand how strong you are until your back is against the wall." On playing in a contract year "It's also at the point where I've got one year left on my contract and people are going to say, 'Is it the motivation of not having another contract?' Absolutely not. I've never, ever focused on that. I've never worried about money. I've never played the game because of money. I've played the game because I love it. I think when I'm at my best is when I am an underdog, when people count me out." On competing for playing time with Castillo and Betts "The whole big picture of all of this is, yes, I'm competing against Castillo. I'm competing against Betts. I'm competing against other guys. Hanley is set because of the contract that he signed. Castillo is what you would call, quote, unquote, set because he signed his contract. People are going to say Mookie and I are competing, but we're not competing. I don't look at it as competition. I look at it as motivation for me to be better, a motivation for him to be better, and at the end of the day, if I push him and he pushes me we'll see what happens. "I've been a big advocate of Mookie since Day 1. I 've spoken highly of him. I learned from Day 1 that he's a kid that wants to learn. My first day in my rehab assignment in Pawtucket, 15 minutes before the game he's asking me questions in the most respectful way. From Day 1 I've been a big fan of that kid. Either I'm going to push me to be better or he's going to push me to be better. I don't take it in any way of disrespecting Mookie or talking down about him. I'll never be that guy. There's not reason to be. I think that's the part people are going to take about it being a competition, but it's not a competition." On his overall health heading into spring training "I don't feel any different from how I expected to feel. I know there are limitations and things that they want to take me through and progressively build, but in my opinion I'm ready to go. That's why I showed up a week early to get work in and be ready to go in a week. I feel good. I feel healthy. The only thing that's left to test now is the everyday baseball activity. But I'm ready. I'm excited. "I've done everything I've done every other offseason. I've hit. I've caught. I've simulated receiving ground balls. Cuts. Everything. I didn't run the bases but every other kind of aspect in running I've done. In previous years I haven't run the bases anyway. Baseball activity on an everyday basis is the focus. I'm sure they're a little wary coming off back surgery, but I feel very confident I'm ready to go when we come together as a team on the 25th."