|Shane Victorino will let Red Sox fans decide ‘whether to fall in love or not’||02.14.13 at 10:30 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Shane Victorino is ready to go.
The 32-year-old outfielder reported to camp on Thursday, a day before physicals for position players, and said he can’t wait to get on with the process of showing that last year was just an down year for him.
He batted .255 with 11 homers in 154 games split between the Phillies and Dodgers. Still, the Red Sox agreed with Victorino and feel he was worth the three-year, $39 million commitment they gave him in the offseason.
“Hey, I just think this is the start,” Victorino said Thursday morning at his locker at JetBlue Park. “I’ve had seven, eight years in the big leagues. But 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. I said it was just one year. People are going to point at that but at the end of the day, I always give 100 percent and have fun doing it. I’m excited for this opportunity to be here with this organization.
“Most people would say, ‘a fresh start.’ I don’t ever look at it that way. I just look at it as another organization that I get to be apart of and have fun doing it.”
In nine big league seasons with the Padres, Phillies and Dodgers, the switch-hitting Victorino is a .275 hitter with a .340 OPB and .770 OPS. Victorino said he’s more than ready to take on the challenge of playing at Fenway.
“Playing in a place like Philly, the fans there, it’s kind of that same fan base,” Victorino said. “Definitely, when you talk about a fan base, I think about the days where we played in interleague [at Fenway]. I think about the seventh-inning stretch and [eighth inning] the whole place standing up, singing ‘Sweet Caroline,’ that’s the kind of stuff, even as an opposing player, brought adrenaline to me. Calling Fenway home for me, I’m excited. People talk about the storied franchise and the history behind the ballpark. When I was there for that press conference, I started getting that adrenaline rush and started to really hit home that this is going to be called home for me the next three years. I’m excited and I’m going to go out there and give 100 percent and I’m going to let the fans make the decision on falling in love or not.”
How appropriate for Valentine’s Day. Funny, Victorino said the same can be said of the team.
“Everyone is going to try and point at those things,” he said. “At the end of the day, nobody knows that real answer. You just have to go out there, put that behind you. It’s 2013 and we need to focus on that.”
Victorino will play right field and can’t wait to play alongside a healthy Jacoby Ellsbury.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I started as a right fielder. I have a great center field that’s going to be playing alongside me, a guy who was an All-Star, one of the great players in the game. Hopefully, he stays healthy and I think that’s the most important part. Jacoby needs to stay healthy. He had some unfortunate injuries but when he’s healthy, he’s one of the best center fielders in the game. It’s going to be fun playing alongside him.”
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