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Don Mattingly on Shane Victorino: Red Sox fans will ‘love him there’

12.04.12 at 7:22 pm ET
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Shane Victorino's former Dodgers manager, Don Mattingly, is a big fan of the outfielder. (AP)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Don Mattingly knows he didn’t see the best Shane Victorino, but he explained he didn’t need to. The Dodgers manager already knew what the outfielder was all about.

“He’s a pain, man. I’m telling you. He’s one of those guys who has high-energy, plays hard every day, he’s a good defender,” Mattingly said from the winter meetings. “I think he struggled with us because I think he tried too hard. I really think when he came over he really was trying to show what he could do. He didn’t need to do that. I like him a lot.”

Victorino played in 53 games with the Dodgers after being acquired from the Phillies at the non-waiver trade deadline. The switch-hitter managed just a .245 batting average and .667 OPS with 15 stolen bases for Los Angeles, playing primarily left field.

It was an adjustment for the 32-year-old, who had spent all but one of his nine big league seasons with the Phillies. In 101 games in Philadelphia leading up to the trade, Victorino hit .261 with a .724 OPS with nine homers and 24 stolen bases.

Now, Victorino has agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal with the Red Sox, where he is projected to play the majority of the time in right field.

“He can play all three [outfield positions],” said Mattingly. “He’s really good.”

Perhaps the biggest knock on Victorino stemming from his ’12 season was an inability to hit right-handed pitching. He hit just .229 with a .629 OPS hitting left-handed, compared to his .323/.906 as a righty. Prior to ’12, his average hitting left-handed was .272.

Again, Mattingly feels there was an explanation for the struggles.

“He seems to be a little bit better right-handed, obviously. Still, I think last year the part we saw was just different than the years previous,” said Mattingly. “I think part of that was trying too hard. But he’s a little rough. It’s not like Chipper Jones’ swing. It’s a little rough, it’s athletic, but it’s high-energy and it’s a guy who plays hard. If he were to go there, they would love him there because he plays hard.”

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