BOSTON (CBS) — Injuries limited Shane Victorino to just 30 games last season, but the 34-year-old says he is healthy and ready to take back his spot in the Red Sox starting lineup.
While Boston has a bit of a logjam in the outfield, and youngster Mookie Betts turned heads at the end of last season, it sounds like Red Sox manager John Farrell agrees with his veteran.
“If Shane Victorino’s healthy, he’s our right fielder,” Farrell told reporters from Fort Myers, Florida on Friday, as Red Sox pitchers and catchers reported for their Spring Training duties. “You don’t lose your job to injury”
Most of Boston’s pitchers and catchers showed up weeks ago. Position players don’t have to report until next week, but Victorino is among the group who showed up early, working hard to prepare for the 2015 season.
With Hanley Ramirez, Rusney Castillo and Mookie Betts all vying for a starting spot along with Victorino (and Jackie Bradley Jr., Daniel Nava and Allen Craig also battling for some playing time), Farrell will have a tough decision to make come April 6.
But if Victorino is healthy, it sounds like that decision has already been made.
Coming off back surgery, Victorino sounds confident his game will return to the level it was in 2013, when he was one of the key contributors to Boston’s World Series title. While he doesn’t think he has much left to prove on the field, he said Thursday he does need to prove this spring that he’s healthy enough to get that opportunity.
“I’ve been around this game long enough. I don’t have to sit here and talk about and focus on the things like ‘Do I have to prove myself?’ Yeah, I mean, I have to prove that I’m healthy,” said Victorino. “I don’t have to prove anything else in regards to the game of baseball. I think more importantly, I have to prove that I’m healthy, which is the biggest thing and my biggest concern and everybody’s concern coming off major back surgery.”
Victorino is in the final year of a three-year deal he signed with Boston prior to the 2013 season.