BOSTON – A little more than three hours before the start of a possibly decisive World Series Game 6, Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia said the Red Sox are focused on what is ahead of them.
They know they have the potential to clinch a World Series on Wednesday night. And they have the potential to do so at Fenway Park for the first time since 1918. But -- for now, anyway – they prefer just to focus on just playing one game and not the larger, historical context.
“It's the same focus that we've had since day one," Pedroia said. “We've got a game today. We're going to try our best to go out there and execute our pitch and play the game the right way and try to win that game. This is the game on the schedule that we have to play and try to win. That's what we're going to focus on.”
“I agree one hundred percent,” Victorino said. “We're focused on today. We're not worried about tomorrow. If tomorrow comes, tomorrow comes. But from day one we've all focused on the game that's in fronts of us. What we have tonight, we understand the magnitude. There's a lot of excitement. And there's a gentleman across the way [Cardinals starting pitcher Michael Wacha] that's been very good this whole postseason. We all understand and we're just going to go out and give it a hundred percent and leave it on the field. It is what it is.”
For Pedroia, it’s a game like any other.
“I kind of have a pretty simple life,” he said. “I walk to the field. I didn't really see anything. I don't really watch that much on TV. You kind of have blinders on right now. We've got a busy schedule and you want to spend time with your family. You've got to try to put all that stuff aside and focus on what we're trying to do, because they analyze every little thing in the playoffs and especially in the World Series.
“So I haven't seen anything. I mean, that's basically it. I'm getting ready to try to help us win today and all the other stuff is not for us.”
The Sox have the potential to go from finishing last in the division last season to winning the World Series. In spring training, as far-fetched as that may have seemed, that’s what the players believed would happen, they said.
“Yeah, my expectations of our team didn't change from last spring training to this one,” Pedroia said. “Our goal ‑‑ your goal playing for the Red Sox every year is to try to be at this point and win the World Series. At that point we understand how hard it is . . . I mean, every team, you go out there and compete against the best every day. So if you don't shoot for the highest goal year in and year out, this is why we play, is to try to be the best team in the game.
“But every year ‑‑ next year we're going to come in and our goal is to win the World Series, and that's never going to change here.”
Victorino took a chance on the Sox. Coming off a season in which injuries limited him to 101 games in 2012, when he was traded at the deadline from the Phillies to the Dodgers, he signed a three-year, $39 million deal with the Sox.
Victorino was part of an overhaul of the roster, the clubhouse, and the toxic attitude that had permeated both. He and several other players were brought in to change that. What the Sox ended up with is a bunch of bearded brethren, a tight-knit group that actually likes each other.
“I'm a fan of the game. I watch what is going on,” Victorino said. “This organization, there's reason why these two teams are here. Not too many teams have won two World Series in this century. That tells me what it's all about. I should've just said in the last 10 years.
“And that's why I think most importantly for me, when I signed here, I knew what this was about. It wasn't just a bump in the road the last couple of years. And I didn't look at it any differently. Even though they were in last place, I knew this was a first‑class organization. They're about winning. They want to be at the top. I know it's a tough division. And this is one of the divisions that -- hey, I learned myself a lot this year how tough this really was in the A.L. East.
“But that in itself, I said, I'm a fan of the game, I paid attention to them from afar. I played them every year in interleague. I know what's that like. Red Sox Nation, they've got a big following. That's another thing that lured me to sign here in Boston.”
Victorino spent eight seasons in Philadelphia before being sent to Los Angeles. He knows what it can be like playing for a demanding fan base and media contingent.
“First off, I'll say people call this the cathedral of baseball, and I absolutely one hundred percent agree, this place is a special place to play,” Victorino said. “Yes, I have been able to play in a place like Philadelphia, L.A., playing in some big markets. This is right up there with them. It's been great. It's been fun.
“We all understand the magnitude of tonight's game. The fact that since we haven't won a championship in Fenway since 1918. I mean, I don't think there's even that many people who could say they remember that or even could say that they were around when that happened. So all these kind of things. And playing in front of these fans every single night, it doesn't get any better. I'm excited to see what happens. And as I said, we've still got a long, tough task ahead of us.”