Victorino open to hitting leadoff for Red Sox

Victorino open to hitting leadoff for Red Sox
February 18, 2014, 10:30 am
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Shane Victorino has been mentioned as one of  two candidates to serve as the Red Sox' new leadoff hitter in the absence of departed free agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
     
If that's the case, Victorino said Tuesday, he's fine with that.
     
"I never say where I want to be,'' said Victorino. "I don't care where I hit. I've said it all along. Whatever opportunity presents itself, whether it be leadoff, whether it be down in the lineup, wherever. I'm not really focused on all that. I think it's more about getting myself prepared.
     
"Wherever I'm put in the batting order, I'll be ready to go.''
     
Victorno has a career on-base percentage of .342; last year, his first with the Sox, his OBP was .351.
     
From 2008-2010, Victorino posted an OBP of .352 or better.
     
Interestingly, however, Victorino's OBP numbers are usually worse when he hits leadoff. In 216 games hitting first, his OBP is just .317. It's far better (.352) when he hits second in the batting order.
     
"It doesn't give pause to say that he's not a candidate for the leadoff spot,'' said John Farrell when the OBP as leadoff hitter was cited, "because he has the skill set you're looking to put in that 'one' hole. Yes, on-base is the number one thing (for a leadoff hitter), but I don't know that just putting him that leadoff spot changes his mentality as a hitter. That's not what I've taken from him in conversations about that spot.
     
"Unless there's another clear-cut candidate, he's got to be one of them.''
     
Victorino has hit second far more often than any spot in the order. Next is leadoff (216 games), followed by sixth (99 games) and fifth (92) games.
     
The other candidate mentioned by John Farrell is Daniel Nava, who has a better career OBP (.369, with a high of .385 last year), he's not nearly as good a baserunner as Victorino and nowhere near as speedy.