Victorino returns and goes right back into the lineup

Victorino returns and goes right back into the lineup
April 24, 2014, 6:00 pm
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BOSTON -- Twenty-two games into the season, the Red Sox finally welcomed Shane Victorino to their roster Thursday night. Victorino was in right field, batting second in the series finale with the Yankees.

"This is something we've been waiting for for some time here,'' said John Farrell. "Shane's return, we feel like, will help solidify our outfield defense and in addition to that, the top of the order for us. It's good to have him back in the lineup. There's no doubt about it.''

"For me,'' said Victorino, "it's just exciting to be around the guys and in a big-league uniform and get an opportunity to play every day.''

Farrell was unsure how often Victorino would play in the first week or so, as he comes back from a hamstring strain suffered on the last weekend of spring training.

He recently completed a three-game rehab stint at Pawtucket.

"We'll take a closer look at how many consecutive games [he's able to play] as we get into it,'' said Farrell, "and that's going to be predicated on how he responds day in and day out.''

The Sox have used a number of different outfielders in right, including Daniel Nava and Grady Sizemore. But with Victorino healthy, he'll be there on most nights.

"I think we saw last year,'' said Farrell, "with Shane in right field, a Gold Glove winner, particularly in this ballpark, what it means. That's not to be critical of anybody who's played right field to date. That says he's got an opportunity to solidify our defense in the outfield.''

Victorino, for his part, wasn't making any bold predictions about what sort of impact he would have.

"I'm just going to give it my all,'' he said. "There's no one thing I want to say I'm going to do. For me, as a guy who's part of this team, this is a good team. It's just a matter of going out and doing it. We've got a long season ahead of us. To me, coming back and being part of the team is what's important.''

Victorino's teammates have missed his contributions in the field, at the plate, and the energy he brings.

"That's a compliment from these guys,'' said Victorino. "But do I feel like the weight of the team on your shoulders? Not at all. If you come back with that attitude . . . the game's hard enough as it is. I'm going to go out there and try to do what I do, whether it be put down a bunt, make a place on defense, try to steal a base, score a run -- whatever aspect it may be. Hopefully, that generates the energy, generates runs.''

The Sox had Dustin Pedroia hitting leadoff Thursday night, with Victorino second.

"I'd like to think we take the current lineup,'' said Farrell, "and run with it for a while. Hopefully, with Pedey and Vic at the top of the order, the on-base will be there at a consistent rate and I think stability is what this team is in need of right now.''

Victorino was playfully evasive when asked if he was going to switch-hit. In the second half of last year, he mostly hit right-handed, regardless of whether the pitcher was lefty or righty.

"As we know Shane,'' said Farrell, "that's going to be an at-bat to at-bat decision at times, which it was a few times last year. I'm not going to take away his comfort level against a particular pitcher. If he chooses to hit righthanded against right-handed pitcher, he was pretty successful with that last year.''