Victorino starting in RF for Sox; Betts optioned

Victorino starting in RF for Sox; Betts optioned
July 19, 2014, 6:45 pm
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(USA Today Sports Images)

BOSTON -- Shane Victorino is back in Boston and in the starting lineup Saturday against the Kansas City Royals. Batting sixth and manning his usual spot in right field, Victorino gives the Red Sox a touch of stability at one of its oft-shuffled corner outfield spots. 

After getting four at-bats in two consecutive games for the PawSox on Thursday and Friday, Victorino emerged no worse for the wear and was deemed healthy enough to be activated for Saturday's game. In a corresponding move, 21-year-old rookie Mookie Betts was optioned to Triple A Pawtucket. 

"Anytime we get Vic back in our lineup, it's gonna give us a boost," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "That's not short-changing anyone else that's here or has been here. But Vic's defense in right field has been well-documented on how well he plays it, the energy he brings, the intelligence on the base paths. The thing that we'll continue to balance going forward is how many consecutive days he'll play initially and monitor it day in and day out."

Victorino has played just 21 big-league games this season and has been on the disabled list since May 24 with lingering hamstring and back issues. He said before Friday's game that he "feels great," but he's not expecting to single-handedly dig the team out of its 8.5-game hole in the American League East.

"I'm just going to be myself," he said. "I don't know what they've missed or what I'm going to add to the team. But all I can say is I'm going to be the best player I can go out there and have fun doing it. I've been watching from afar with pom-poms in my hand. Trying to be the best cheerleader that I can keep these guys as positive as I can. They've done a great job. The thing that I love about this team is that we never give up. That's the one thing that coming back to this team I just want to be a piece of that. Be a part of that.
 
"I don't want to try to be the savior. I don't want to try to put all the load my back. As a player you want to go out there and have fun. That's what I'm excited to do. To be back out there to be on a big-league field. At Fenway tonight, and take one game at a time and try to be the best player I can be and have fun doing it."

Farrell indicated that while he hopes Victorino will be able to play about five days in a given week, his workload will be monitored closely. With the team making its way up to Toronto on Monday, where the Blue Jays play on turf, his progress will continue to get plenty of close attention. 

Betts, who hit .235 in 10 games with the Red Sox, will continue to see time in the outfield for the PawSox. Farrell explained that Betts would also see time at his more natural position -- second base. 

"I thought he managed his at-bats well," Farrell said. "I thought he showed very good presence or at least composure for a guy who has flown through our system. He's a work in progress defensively particularly in the outfield, and he'll continue to get exposure in center field and right field in Pawtucket while also playing some second base. That's the plan going forward for him defensively."

As for Brock Holt, who has seen some work in right field, Farrell said he sees Holt as the team's regular leadoff man going forward. 

"Brock will get reps in right, in center, at short and at third," Farrell said. "Ideally we keep him in that leadoff spot probably six days a week at a minimum."