High-energy Victorino bubbling with excitement
Right fielder seeking bounce-back season, looks forward to working with Ellsbury
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- If the song "I'm So Excited" by the Pointer Sisters isn't on the playlist of Shane Victorino's iPod, it should be. The Red Sox's new right fielder arrived to camp on a rainy Thursday and used the word "excited" 14 times in a 13-minute session with the media.
Get used to it, Red Sox fans. Victorino is a little, well, excitable.
Victorino doesn't seem to need coffee or energy drinks. It seems as if he was born with caffeine streaming through his veins.
"I'm a high-energy guy," Victorino said. "You guys are going to get that. I like to have fun. If I pick on you guys every once in a while, just have fun with it and laugh with it. But at the end of the day, we're going to go to work, and I'm excited for Day One here, being here in Fort Myers, being part of this team, and we'll see what happens."
The Red Sox have made a three-year, $39 million investment in Victorino's energy and baseball talent. A center fielder for most of his career, he will move to right field at least for this season, as Jacoby Ellsbury will stay in his natural position for this final year before free agency.
"Hey, I'm excited," Victorino said. "I started as a right fielder, and again, I have a great center fielder to be playing alongside of me, a guy who is an All-Star to me, one of the great players in the game."
Though Victorino is a newcomer, he knows very well how important Ellsbury is to the Red Sox. Typically in recent years, when Ellsbury has been at his best, the team has followed suit.
"Hopefully he stays healthy," Victorino said. "That's the most important part. Jacoby needs to stay healthy. He's had some unfortunate injuries. But when he's healthy, to me, I think he's, if not the -- he's one of the best center fielders in the game. Again, I think it's going to be fun playing alongside of him. Definitely, right field is a little different at Fenway than most parks, but hey, I'm always up for the opportunity and going out there and having fun."
Let's face it –- the Red Sox need some fun after the past couple of seasons. Victorino, respectful of the way chemistry develops, made it clear he isn't coming in to step on anyone's toes.
"People always talk about culture and the presence," Victorino said. "Those guys that have been here, [Jon] Lester, [Dustin] Pedroia, [Clay] Buchholz, [David] Ortiz, those guys, I think, are still the backbone of this organization.
"Guys like myself, Jonny Gomes, [Joel] Hanrahan, David Ross, we're coming in just to be part of this team. We're not coming in to try to change the culture. It's just adding to the pieces of that puzzle and to go out there and have fun. Winning heals all. When you don't win, people are always going to wonder the fine answers of why. People are going to blame the clubhouse, the atmosphere."
Victorino has experienced the highest level of winning as a member of the 2008 World Series champion Phillies. He again played in the Fall Classic in '09, with his Phils losing to the Yankees in six hard-fought games.
The Red Sox are trying to get back to playing on the big stage, and Victorino will do what he can to help aid that cause.
"What do I hope I add? Being fun, energetic, going out there and being myself. I think that's what you're going to get," Victorino said.
The problem for Victorino last season is that it was perhaps the least productive of his career, particularly if you use OPS (.704) as a barometer.
"I've had seven, eight years in the big leagues, but again, at the end of the day, people always talk about age and talk about how I had a down year and how my numbers are going backwards. But I would say this –- it's just one year," Victorino said.
"I always give 100 percent and have fun doing it. Again, I'm excited for the opportunity to be here with this organization. Most people say it's a fresh start. I don't ever look at it that way. I just look at it as another organization, another team I get to be a part of and have fun doing it."
At the age of 32, there's no reason Victorino can't have a bounce-back season.
"Again, people are going to try to find a reason. And who knows? If I could put my finger on it, I would have stopped it earlier, but unfortunately I didn't," Victorino said. "I didn't have the year I wanted to. Again, 2013 is a fresh start for me -- new organization. And what better than to be a Red Sox. I think that's what it's all about. At the end of the day, maybe it was just a bump in the road. Again, I'm just staying focused on 2013 and not worrying about 2012."
After spending the next couple of weeks getting acclimated with his new team, Victorino will depart on March 1 to play for Team USA and manager Joe Torre in the World Baseball Classic.
Was committing to the Classic a tough decision in what is already a year of transition for Victorino?
"Of course it was," Victorino said. "Of course you don't want to get pulled away from the organization, but at the end of the day, that USA team I get to play on and represent our country, that was a deciding factor for me. Was it a tough decision? Yeah, but we're going to have three weeks to work with Jacoby and get my wits in right field. I'm still going to get enough playing time from what I'm being told by Joe Torre."
Once the Classic ends, you can probably guess that Victorino will be "excited" to get back to work with the Red Sox.