Boston Red Sox

Victorino arrives at Red Sox camp energized

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Victorino arrives at Red Sox camp energized

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Shane Victorino reported to Red Sox camp Thursday morning, giving the team a full complement of players ahead of Fridays first official full-squad workout.

The new right fielder joined the Sox in December, agreeing to a three-year, 39 million contract, the longest free agent deal the team gave out this offseason.

Im excited, Victorino said. An opportunity to be a Red Sox, its a storied franchise, and to be part of this organization. Last couple years have been a little rough here but at the end of the day its about 2013. Its about putting those years behind us as an organization and moving forward. A lot of new faces thats going to hopefully put the final pieces of this puzzle together and go out there and have fun.

Victorino, who turned 32 in November, is known for his high-energy personality, on the field and in the clubhouse.

What Ive always taken about my game was to give 100 percent, he said. Leave it all on the field and see what happens. Its about playing the game correctly, playing the game the right way, and thats playing the game hard.

He knows Red Sox fans have high expectations, and hes looking forward to that.

Absolutely, 100 percent, he said. Playing in a place like Philly, the fans there kind of that same fan base. But, no, definitely when you talk about a fan base, I think about the days when we played in interleague there, the seventh-inning stretch, the whole place standing up, singing 'Sweet Caroline.' Thats the kind of stuff that as a player, even as an opposing player, brought adrenaline to me. Calling Fenway home for me Im excited.

People talk about the storied franchise, talk about the history behind that ballpark, when I was there doing that introductory press conference, just started getting that adrenaline rush, started to really hit home that this is going to be called home for me the next three yearsIm excited. Im going to go out there and give 100 percent, and Im going to let the fans make the decision on falling in love or not.

That was part of the reason the Red Sox signed him, along with the other high-character players they brought in this offseason.

Im just going to be myself, he said. Im going to have fun. People always talk about culture and the presence. I think those guys that have been here, the Lesters, the Pedroias, Buchholz, those guys, I still think those are the back bone of this organization. And guys like myself, Jonny Gomes, Joel Hanrahan, David Ross, were coming in to just be a part of this team. Were not coming in here to try to change the culture.

More than anything its just adding to the pieces of the puzzle and to go out there and have fun. Most important I think thats what we need to do. Winning cures all. When you dont win people are always going to wonder and find answers of why. Theyre going to blame the clubhouse, the atmosphere. I wasnt here last year the last couple years to be a part of that. I think the backbone of this team is still here with those guys, the leaders of this team. Its about us going out there and putting it all together and have fun.

Victorino struggled last season. He was traded from Philadelphia, where he had played since 2005, to the Dodgers at the trading deadline, batting a combined .255, with a .321 on-base percentage, and .383 slugging percentage, all the lowest marks in a full season of his nine-season career. He had a lingering hand injury, but hes not using that as an excuse.

There was a lot on my plate, he said. There were things you cant control. And I try to control those kinds of things. But I put those things behind me and I tried to do the best I could and tried to fulfill and finish the season as strong as I could. People are going to try to find a reason and everybodys going to say and who knows. If I could have put my finger on it, I would have stopped it earlier. But unfortunately I didnt and I didnt have the year I wanted to. But 2013s a fresh start for me, new organization. And what better to be a Red Sox.

Victorino, who will be leaving camp by March 1 to play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, has played the vast majority of his career in center field. Of his 1,002 career defensive games, hes played just 148 in right field, with 122 starts. He knows right field, especially in Fenway Park, will be a challenge. Its a challenge hes looking forward to.

I started as a right fielder and I have a great center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury thats going to be playing alongside of me, he said. A guy who was an All-Star, to me one of the greatest players in the game. Hopefully he stays healthy, and I think thats the most important part. He had some unfortunate injuries but when hes healthy, to me hes, if not one of the best center fielders in the game. I think its going to be fun playing alongside of him. I started as a right fielder so its not going to be completely new to me. But its going to be a lot of work. Definitely Fenway, right fields a little different at Fenway than most parks. But hey Im always up for an opportunity and go out there and have fun.

Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

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Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

CINCINNATI - Mitch Moreland ended his long slump with a three-run homer, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning, and the Boston Red Sox took another step toward a second straight AL East title, beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-0 on Saturday.

Boston has won 13 of 16, holding off the Yankees as it tries to win back-to-back East titles for the first time since divisional realignment in 1969. The Red Sox have their best record of the season at 90-64, reaching 90 wins for the second year in a row.

They remain four games in front of the Yankees, who beat Toronto 5-1.

Moreland was in an 0-for-19 slump when he connected off Robert Stephenson (5-6) in the sixth inning, his 20th homer of the season but only his second in September. The Red Sox are last in the AL with 160 homers.

Rodriguez (6-6) has given up two or fewer earned runs in each of his last four starts, the best stretch of his career. The left-hander gave up three singles and two walks in 7 2/3 innings, his longest outing since May 21.

The Red Sox have shutout victories in three of their last four games, including two at Baltimore. They are 7-1 on a trip that ends Sunday. Boston wraps up the regular season at Fenway Park with three games against Toronto and four against Houston.

Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who grew up in suburban Madeira and had hundreds of relatives and friends in the stands for the series, singled home a run in the seventh at the ballpark where he regularly attended games as a youth.

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

Mookie Betts, who fouled a ball off his left foot Friday night, and Dustin Pedroia, who has been bothered by a knee injury almost all season, were out of the Red Sox lineup Saturday against the Reds in Cincinnati.

Chris Young started in right field for Betts and Brock Holt at second base for Pedroia.

Betts was scratched from the original lineup but was a late scratch. Pedroia, who had been getting intermittent days off to rest his knee was originally expected to play but needed treatement and hopes to be able to play Sunday, according to Scott Lauber of ESPN. 

Manager John Farrell told reporters, including Christopher Smith of MassLive.com, that Betts "was hindered by it last night in the second half of that game. [He] woke up a little bit more sore. Went through treatment. But felt it was best to give him a day to fully recover and get some additional treatment."

The manager added that Betts was available to pinch hit Saturday and did not have X-rays, but that step could be taken if there's no improvement in the next 24 hours.