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Ken Rosenthal on D&C: Sox will have issue if Shane Victorino is banged up

03.31.14 at 9:52 am ET
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Fox Sports baseball reporter Ken Rosenthal joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to talk about the state of the Red Sox on Opening Day. To listen to the full interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters on Sunday that Shane Victorino was in Boston for an MRI on his right hamstring and will have the leg examined early Monday.

“Obviously Victorino is a huge part of what they did last year, and his performance was probably the big surprise because, remember, that contract was not well received when he signed it,” Rosenthal said. “People thought that he was in decline, including myself.

“He played at an extremely high level, played great defense in right field and obviously was a postseason hero as well. If he is not right, yes, something is wrong, and with [Jackie Bradley Jr.] unproven and Bradley perhaps being no more in his career other than perhaps a fourth outfielder, you’ve got some questions there.

“Now, they’ve got depth with [Mike] Carp and [Daniel] Nava. They can do some things, and that’s one of the things I really like about them, but at the same time, Victorino is a huge part. We saw that last year, and if he’s banged up all year, and he’€™s not right — and he can be like that because he is somewhat older, plays hard and bangs himself up — that’s going to be an issue.”

If Victorino has an injury-plagued season, Boston could feel the loss of former Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury more than the team originally thought.

Jacoby Ellsbury is a really, really good player,” Rosenthal said. “We all know that. Maybe he was a little bit underappreciated. He had the injury controversy that one year and of course as a Scott Boras client, most fans knew he was going to leave and I get that always tempers enthusiasm for a player. At the same time, he was outstanding at his best. When he was hurt, clearly not as outstanding and not the player we all talk about.

“If Victorino in particular is banged up — and this is speculation, right — if he plays 80-100 games instead of 130-140, then you might see people say, ‘If only we had Jacoby,’ but I don’€™t know that people are going to look at it that way. I don’€™t know if the club officials will look at it that way because the reality is it’s not like they were going to pay Jacoby $153 million, everyone knew it was coming, I believe.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

On repeating a World Series title: “There’€™s no way that a team can replicate it€™s hunger from a year before after winning a championship. It’€™s just human nature. It’€™s not impossible to do — the Patriots are pretty good year after year at this — but at the same time, it’s just difficult to recapture what they had. All these guys coming together, several of them had something to prove. Now many of them have proven it. The one thing that stood out so much last year and should carry over is that they do have a way about them, a way that enabled them to figure out how to win. They have that kind of guide, and it’s a veteran thing. It’s an experience thing. It’s just the character of the club — they have that. A lot of teams don’€™t have that. Even winning teams don’€™t have that knack for winning.”

On Jon Lester’€™s contract: “I don’€™t know how this is going to end, and the fact that it didn’t get done before Opening Day, despite all the platitudes you hear — how amicable this is and wonderful the relationship is — the bottom line is he’s still not signed. It can get done, but I’m quite certain there is a difference of opinion. Obviously the problem is this: There is a market established for pitchers of Lester’s caliber. It’s fairly clear, [Max] Scherzer is actually comparable. Cole Hamels is comparable. There are others, and unlike [Dustin] Pedroia, while he is willing to give them a discount, he’s not willing to say, as Pedroia did, essentially, ‘Guys, pay me whatever you want to pay me and that’€™s it.’

“Pedroia’s deal is ridiculously club-friendly, and if the Red Sox think they’re getting that deal out of every player they’re out of their minds. So I wrote last week where I think he should end up, and that’s five years, $115 million. I’€™m not sure Lester sees it that way. He probably wants the sixth year, as he should, but that to me is a deal that would reflect him giving some of a discount on the year, but it would also reflect him getting paid market value of $23 million a year … That is the going rate, and if you don’t want to pay it, that’s fine, but that’s the rate.”

On whether the team’s older or younger players concern Farrell more: “The older end, because with the older end you just don’€™t know when these guys are going to start to decline. [David] Ortiz is an outlier — no one would have expected he would continue performing at this level, yet he has. Koji [Uehara] — it seems impossible that he can do what he did last year … That is what worries me most, the potential for decline, the age of the catchers — although they have a number of them coming, they’re not there yet.

“I like the idea of youth and upside. Now, will Jackie Bradley be the guy that they envisioned? That remains to be seen, but [Xander] Bogaerts is going to be a superstar. That’s obvious and that is only going to energize the club further.”

Read More: Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Ken Rosenthal, Shane Victorino
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