Boston Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino went under the knife Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles, undergoing a procedure to fix an injured back. The procedure should all but end Victorino’s season, a season that was lost from the start.
It began with setbacks in spring training that led to Victorino missing the first 22 games of the season. It continued with the 33-year-old returning to the disabled list a few weeks later. It escalated with constant setbacks in his rehab that delayed his return to the lineup all the way to July 19. It was expected he’d be back by mid-June.
The situation escalated to a point that when that magical day came, when Victorino returned to the field against the Kansas City Royals, the talk was about how long it would be until the right fielder was back on the sidelines.
The answer was 12 days, when Victorino continued the tradition of Red Sox right fielders finding ways to get injured on July 30, the day before the non-waiver trade deadline. Pulled in the fifth inning of a 6-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, it marked the final time Victorino would leave the field in 2014. He was placed on the disabled list, and opted for back surgery that should end his season.
The season-ending surgery closes the book on what was a lost season for Victorino. Limited to 30 games, he hit just .268 with two home runs and 12 RBI, never able to consistently remain in the lineup and get into a rhythm.
Whether it was a matter of Victorino not showing up in Fort Myers in good shape or the rash of nagging injuries catching up with him, one thing was for sure. The lost season for Victorino largely contributed to what has been a lost season in Boston, in which the Sox have slipped to last place in the AL East with a 49-62 record through 111 games.
The Red Sox lineup, anemic and unable to continue innings and string together runs consistently, could’ve used the production that Victorino gave the team in 2013, when he hit .294 with an .801 OPS, 15 home runs, 61 RBI and 21 stolen bases. He injected energy into the starting lineup, bringing a good deal of speed, athleticism and timely hitting the Red Sox have missed in 2014.
The Detroit Tigers looked across the diamond and asked ‘Why can’t we have guys like that?’ as Victorino hit the grand slam in the seventh inning of Game 6 of the ALCS at Fenway Park, the hit that proved to be the difference in the Sox series-clinching win. Now, the Red Sox pose the same question as they look back and reflect on that magical run.
Victorino’s touch was demonstrated in both seasons he’s spent in Boston on both levels. The impact he has on a lineup when he’s in it, while also showing how dearly he’s missed when he’s missing. The former could be why he’ll be on the radar of some teams in the offseason. Victorino carries a manageable one-year and $13 million remaining on the three-year, $39 million deal he signed in December 2012. Meanwhile, the latter will be why teams will shy away from him.
A few good cases could be made for what caused such a nightmarish season for Victorino, but one thing is certain — it was doomed from the start.