Victorino planning on taking his time this spring

Victorino planning on taking his time this spring
February 18, 2014, 3:45 pm
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When we last saw Shane Victorino, he was a physical mess.
Victorino battled a number of issues throughout last season, including a lower back problem, a strained hamstring and a thumb that eventually required surgical correction in the off-season.
In October, the hamstring was such a hindrance that the long-time switch-hitter had to bat exclusively righthanded. And because he was facing righthanded pitching from the right side for the first time, his habit of diving out over the plate resulted in him getting hit far more often than usual.
By October, he was just trying to keep himself on the field.
"It's part of the game,'' shrugged Victorino. "At that point in the season, everybody's hurting from playing a lot of games. But you focus on trying to win. As I said, I feel good. I'm here in spring training and I'm ready to go.''
As for whether he'll return to switch-hitting this year, Victorino said: "I'll let you guys watch and learn.''
Said John Farrell: "From everything I know, he will switch-hit. But I've come to learn that he can change on the fly. He's been a switch-hitter his entire major league career. I don't think it's in his mind to eliminate the left side of the plate.''
The surgery on his right thumb will have Victorino behind most of his teammates as spring training gets underway.
"I'm going to ramp up some activity,'' said Victorino. "We're going to work through it, be smart about it. We're preparing for 162 games or more, so we're going to take our time, work through the process and go from there.''
Victorino has already tried taking some dry swings, but has yet to face pitching or even hit in a cage.
"I haven't really hit in terms of making contact and things like that,'' he said. "It's going to be a work-in-progress. I want to make sure I'm ready for Game One (of the season). We'll take it one day at a time, progress through the process and see where I'm at.''
"He's just beginning a hitting progression,'' said Farrell, "which is going to go from dry swings to tee-work. We've got to monitor how he recovers from that work. But he's throwing the ball. He feels like the strength in the hand has been re-gained. We've got to take him through that period.''
Farrell, noting how often Victorino was "banged up,'' credited the outfielder with having a high pain threshold. But Farrell said the Sox didn't necessarily plan to limit his workload for his own good this season
"Learning about Vic last year, he never wants to come out of a game,'' said Farrell, "even when he's not 100 percent physically. So he did a lot of preventative work this winter to address the hamstring and the lower back issues that nagged him at times last year.
"Again, we want to put the best team on the field every night to win. But if there are times when he needs a down time because he needs to stay ahead of things, we'll see how we progress through the season. But I wouldn't say we're going into the season with a prescribed number of days off per week.''