Verlander: Victorino gets hit by strikes

Verlander: Victorino gets hit by strikes
October 14, 2013, 9:30 pm
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DETROIT – Shane Victorino is batting .333, going 7-for 21, with no walks and no extra-base hits in the postseason. His .462 on-base percentage is tied for second, with David Ortiz, among players still active in the postseason.
 
Much of that mark can be attributed to the five times he’s been hit by a pitch. He’s been hit nearly as many times as he’s recorded a hit this postseason. Victorino leads all postseason batters in that category – still more than the next two batters combined, with David DeJesus and Prince Fielder getting hit twice each.  His five HBPs equal the Tigers’ total for the postseason. No other Red Sox batter has been hit yet.
 
That has not escaped the eyes of certain observers, including Justin Verlander who will face Victorino Tuesday in Game 3 as the Tigers starting pitcher.
 
“I've seen some pitches that he got hit on that were strikes,” Verlander said Monday afternoon at Comerica Park. “So, I mean, I don't think you can worry about that. I think just whoever is the home plate umpire needs to be aware that he's up there. Anything on the inner half occasionally he's looking to get hit. He's up there, he's right on top of the plate. And his arms are over the batter's box and over part of the plate. If he doesn't get out of the way, there could be an occasion that it could be a strike and it actually hits him.

“That's something that I think that those guys are aware of. But you can't think about not hitting a guy. You've got to think about executing your pitches and not changing anything because of that. And hopefully if something like that happens, those guys are on top of it.”
 
Victorino’s approach has been no different in the postseason than it was all year, although the ratios are much different in the postseason. He led the American League getting hit 18 times, third-most in baseball, behind only Shin-Soo Choo’s 26 HBPs and Starling Marte’s 24. But that was in 532 plate appearances, or once every 29.55 plate appearances. In the postseason, he’s been hit once every 5.4 plate appearances.
 
After any game Victorino is covered in various ice packs –a testament to the way he plays the game, and the walls -- while his arms, legs, and torso bear baseball-sized blotches of varying shades of blue, black, green, and purple.
 
Told of Verlander’s comments, Victorino said several umpires have addressed the issue with him, including in the postseason. While he refutes the notion that he has been hit by strikes, he did not have an issue with Verlander expressing his opinion.
 
“It's not like [Verlander] went on about it,” Victorino said. “He was good about it.
 
“It's not like the umpires don't know that I'm close to the plate. But, you know, I'm not going to alter my approach and nor do I expect a pitcher to change theirs. Other than the fact, the only part that disappointments me in that quote, he thinks I'm getting hit by strikes. To me that's — that to me is what disappoints me more than anything.
 
“If he can prove to me and show me which one he thought was a strike that was a legitimate strike that I got hit on, then — but as I said, I'm not mad. Hey, it is what it is. It's your opinion. For me, I understand you're executing your pitches. I'm going to try to execute what I'm trying to do at the plate. Trust me, I don't want to jump in front of a 95-mph fastball. That's not what I'm trying to do. You can say the umpires are aware of it.”