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John Farrell: Shane Victorino’s success against righties from right side unprecedented

08.30.13 at 6:33 pm ET
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Shane Victorino

Shane Victorino

Most changes to a hitter’s approach require some adjustment time, but Shane Victorino has hardly missed a beat since transitioning from switch-hitting to hitting solely from the right earlier this month. Red Sox manager John Farrell said Friday that he’s never seen a hitter in the majors make that change as easily as Victorino has.

“Last time he he hit right-on-right [regularly], I think he was 19 years old,” Farrell said. “And to just change midseason, at the big-league level, that’s very rare.”

In 2012, Victorino faced a righty from the right just eight times. He did it three times in 2011. This year, before he made the switch against Arizona’s Brandon McCarthy on August 5, the only right-hander he had faced from the right was Toronto’s R.A. Dickey.

Victorino now has a .304/.396/.478 line against right-handed pitchers in 53 plate appearances this season. He’s also hitting .297/.366/.538 overall, with five homers and seven doubles, since August 5. While he initially moved to the right because hitting from the left created a risk of aggravating a hamstring injury, Victorino has had so much success overall since making the change that Farrell said there’s been no reason to alter his new approach.

On Thursday, the Sox faced Baltimore’s Tommy Hunter, who’s held right-handers to a .175 on-base percentage this year but been beaten up by lefties, allowing a .305/.336/.511 line. Farrell said he didn’t advise Victorino to switch back to the left side even then, due to the comfort he now feels on the right.

“He’s hitting from such a stronger base on the right-handed side of the plate, and it’s been a while now since he hit left-handed,” Farrell said. “I think in that pivotal point in the game, he just felt better from the right side of the plate.”

Hitting from the right also offers Victorino something of the element of surprise against right-handed pitchers, Farrell said. The outfielder has been hit by six pitches since making the switch, more than he had in the rest of the season before that (although two of those came from lefties).

“I think initially, right-handed pitchers, when he stepped into the box right-handed, were – I’m not going to say you saw a different expression on the face, but it’s something that you haven’t seen,” Farrell said. “Evident by the number of hit by pitches from right-handed pitchers.”

Victorino hasn’t abandoned switch-hitting entirely, Farrell said. For the time being, though, he’s had no reason to turn away from his newfound success on the right side of the plate.

- Daniel Bard is coming off a concerning outing in the Gulf Coast League, in which he walked five hitters, allowed three stolen bases and unleashed two wild pitches without finishing an inning. That made Bard’s chances of making it back to the majors this season, already slim, essentially nonexistent, although Farrell said Bard may yet try to pitch in Short-Season Single-A Lowell before the season is out.

“There’s been a conversation had with him, particularly after yesterday’s outing, which was a rough one,” Farrell said of Bard. “He wants a couple more appearances and we can provide those to him, just to one give him opportunity and see where that might go. The potential of that being in Lowell is a real potential. Daniel has not closed the book on this season, and I think that’s the first and foremost thing.”

Throughout a 2013 season in which he missed significant time due to an abdominal injury, Bard has battled significant command issues, walking 23 in 14 1/3 innings.

- Farrell reiterated that he believes David Ortiz‘s 0-for-22 slump, the second longest hitless streak of his Boston career, is mainly due to timing issues.

“He’s just missing his pitches,” Farrell said. “It’s a timing thing right now for him, whether he’s getting started a little bit late or not getting started on time, it has him right now getting beat with some fastballs. I think it just further proves that no matter the status and production of a given guy, there’s maintenance to everyone’s swing. And he’s working through that right now.”

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