The Boston Red Sox are 11 games into their Grapefruit League schedule, and outfielder Shane Victorino is still looking for his first hit.
The Red Sox signed Victorino during the off-season to a hefty three-year, $39 million contract. With the loss of Cody Ross to free agency, Victorino has virtually no competition for the starting right field job in Boston. That’s great news for the 32-year-old considering his struggles thus far in camp.
The Hawaiian native doesn’t have a hit in 11 spring training at-bats, spread out among five games. He’s struck out three times, while spending the majority of his plate appearances in the number three spot in the batting order. That could be part of the problem.
In his nine-year career, Victorino has primarily batted first or second and has been a catalyst for manufacturing runs. He’s stolen 201 bases since breaking into the big leagues with the San Diego Padres back in 2003, and he’s scored over 600 runs. It’s very possible that Victorino is pressing at the plate a little due to the pressure and unfamiliarity of batting in the three-hole.
Victorino figures to bat first or second when he joins Team U.S.A. later this week in preparation for the World Baseball Classic. Hopefully the change of scenery will kick-start the struggling veteran and get him back on the right track at the plate. Team U.S.A plays their first game on March 8th against Mexico.
(JM Catellier is the author of the book Fixing Baseball, a guide to restructuring the Hall of Fame. Follow him on Twitter: @FixingBaseball and Facebook, and check out his site: www.fixingbaseball.com)