Shane Victorino

Shane Victorino remains unfazed by wave of new Red Sox outfielders

Rob Bradford
August 26, 2014 - 7:30 am

TORONTO -- The initial response was predictable. "Nothing has changed," said Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino just before the team left on its current road trip. Physically, not much would be expected to be altered since the right fielder last appeared near the Sox clubhouse. The doctors had told Victorino that it would be a month before twisting, bending and such would be allowed after the outfielder's back surgery. It had only been a couple of weeks. But there was indeed something that had changed in Victorino's world. For the second time in the last month, the Red Sox acquired an outfielder expected to start in 2015, signing Cuban center fielder Rusney Castillo. And as someone who fully expects to not have lost his starting job, that was of some interest to Victorino. First there was the trades for Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig, leaving some to believe Victorino might be moving to center. But then came the Castillo commitment and now projected lineups are a bit more difficult to decipher. "It's not a bad problem to have. It gives you options. It makes guys expendable, if that's something that you want to look at," he said. "But again, I don't know what the front office has in mind. I mean, obviously, you look at what's starting to happen. With the signing of Castillo, I mean, obviously, with that contract, he's going to play every day. Cespedes is going to play every day. Where are you going to factor in everybody else? Like I said, I still have every intention in my mind to be the right fielder every day. I have no desire to be anything else. But, as I said, we all understand that this is a business, who knows what can happen, but like I said, my mindset is to get prepared for 2015, to be the right fielder and play every day here, and we'll go from there." Victorino will be heading into the final year of his three-year, $39 million deal in '15. He was coming off a stellar '13 campaign, not only hitting .294 with an .801 OPS, 15 homers and 21 stolen bases (in 24 attempts), but supplying a fair amount of postseason heroics. This season has been an uphill climb from the first days of spring training, battling back, hamstring and thumb issues throughout. The 33-year-old managed just 30 games before being shut down with the back surgery. With the injuries (what he calls his "100,000-mile tune-up") and outfield additions, some might feel Victorino is headed into a period of uncertainty. That's not how he looks at it. ""I'll do whatever, I don't care. Like I said, if they feel like there's somebody better in right, then go ahead and show me," he said. "I'm not saying it in a cocky or bragging way. An injury took me away from that position. Like I said, I have every intention of coming back healthy and being the right fielder. I don't know, as I said, what their plan is. Castillo is obviously a center fielder, they say, who can fly. He can play right, but I'm sure he can play a lot of other different positions. But you know, as I said, I'm just focused on going out there, getting healthy, more importantly, and wherever they slot me to play, I'll be ready to go." He then added, "I don't care what uniform I put on. Honestly, I have every intention to being the right fielder in Boston. That's my mindset, I'm focused on that, but who knows what the front office has in mind. As I said, there's so many guys, you've got Mookie [Betts], you've got Jackie [Bradley] in center field. You've got [Daniel] Nava, you've got Brock Holt, that showed that he can play everything. So all these things factor in. But, I'm just focused on more importantly for me, getting healthy, getting ready to go. Whatever happens, it happens. Like I said, my mindset is to be the everyday right fielder, and that's what I'm focused on." And, by all accounts, the process of sliding back into the lineup as the Red Sox' everyday right fielder is slated to begin with Victorino hitting the ground running at the outset of spring training. "From here on out, whatever happens is all new to me," said Victorino regarding any subsequent injuries. "So that's what I'm focused on. If [an injury] happens next year, then it's something that probably arrived that's new. It's not coming from something that every year, going, 'OK, we're going to do what it takes to get me out there and play a full season.' Now, it's like we got the surgery out of the way, hopefully this leads to a lot of the problems that we had and take a lot of the problems away and go from here."