Victorino: 'I'm looking forward to 2013'

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Victorino: 'I'm looking forward to 2013'

BOSTON With the addition of switch-hitter Shane Victorino, the Red Sox hope they have added some balance to a lineup that had become right-handed heavy. In 154 games in 2012, just off his career high of 156 games in 2009, Victorino hit .255 with 11 home runs, 55 RBI, a .321 on-base percentage, and a .383 slugging percentage between the Phillies and the Dodgers, who acquired him at the trading deadline.
He also had a career-high 39 stolen bases, with just six times caught stealing, for an impressive 86.6 percent success rate.
Victorino, who is expected to be the starting right fielder with Jacoby Ellsbury in center and Jonny Gomes in left, is a three-time Gold Glover, in 2008 2010. He will also offer some versatility in the outfield having played 762 games in center, 148 in right, and 111 in left.
However, how much offense Victorino will be able to add from the left side remains to be seen.
Overall, in his nine-season career, Victorino is a career .275 hitter, with a .341 on-base percentage, .430 slugging percentage, and 201 stolen bases (43 times caught, an 82.3 percent success rate). He has primarily hit in the second spot in the order over his career, batting .287.351.436 in 2,143 plate appearances. After that, he has seen the most plate appearances, 971, leading off, batting .251.320.411. However, hes had his best production from the sixth spot, going .307.362.500 in 352 plate appearances (fourth-most).
In his career , Victorino has hit .267.33.402 as a left-handed batter against right-handed pitchers, and .301.373.508 as a right-handed batter against lefties. In 2012, he dropped to just .229.296.333 against righties, while hitting .323.388.518 against lefties. In 2011, he hit .270.333.455 against right-handers, .308.424.608 against left-handers.
Hes had years where hes hit righties well, said general manager Ben Cherington. We feel confident that hes going to be a productive hitter from the left side. Were looking to add to the team. He doesnt have to hit home runs at Fenway from the left side. Were looking at his overall game and what he can do on defense and on the bases creating havoc in the lineup. Theres a lot of different things he can do besides hitting home runs.
While he had an injury to his right index finger in 2012, Victorino said that was not an issue.
Everybody wants to find that excuse, he said. I wish I had that excuse I could use. But no, early on I had a right index problem. But it didnt hamper me and it didnt hamper me at the plate And Im not the kind of player thats going to let that be a reason for why I struggled or why I didnt be the player that I can be Thats not an issue at all.
If I had an answer, Id put my finger on it the last two years, figure out why I didnt hit .280, .285, .290, .300. More importantly, I think its just about going out there next year.
The hand injury was something the Red Sox looked into before offering Victorino a three-year, 39 million deal. While it is difficult for the Sox to gauge how much the injury affected Victorino, they were confident it would not be an issue going forward.
The player knows that better than we do, Cherington said. You have to look into these things. The extent for which it affected him last year were confident based on our evaluation theres nothing standing in the way of him getting back to the form he established in Philly.
Victorino was the subject of trade speculation early in the season with the Phillies, which also could have affected him.
Id say 50-50, he said. Early in the season I wanted to get something done and stay in Philly and that was a little bit of my focus. Coming off a good year in 11 I kind of wanted to say to myself, Hey, this might be the time for me.But lets look beyond that. Im a Red Sock now. I think thats where Im looking at. Im not worried about what happened there I got three years here and Im very excited for the opportunity to be a Red Sock.
Last year I think everybody had it and speculation I was worried about staying in Philly and then focus on that, worrying about where I was going to be rather than just going out and playing the game. Yeah, for the most part it got to me because I love Philly so much. But at the end of the day, I look beyond that now Im looking forward to 2013.

Blount on free agency: 'I definitely want to go back to New England'

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Blount on free agency: 'I definitely want to go back to New England'

LeGarrette Blount knows where he wants to be for 2017. Ever since he re-joined the Patriots in 2014 following a short stay in Pittsburgh, the 250-pound back has been very open about how he wants to play out the rest of his career in New England. 

Those feelings haven't changed, even as he faces free-agency after having recorded the best season of his seven-year career.

"I just want to make sure that I go to this free agency with an open mind, knowing that I definitely want to go back to New England," he told NFL Total Access on Monday. "I love it there. I love the culture. I love the players. I've become close with a lot of the guys. Obviously you know how my running back group is.

"We'll cross that bridge whenever we cross it. On that point, I feel great. I'm in amazing shape. I feel like I could play 100 more years if I have to."

Blount finished 2016 with career-highs in attempts (299) yards (1,161) and touchowns (18). His ability to help the Patriots close games in the fourth quarter was notable throughout the course of the season, and he was among the most effective goal-line backs in the league. His 18 rushing scores are a franchise record.

Toward the end of the season, as Dion Lewis worked his way back into the Patriots offense, Blount had his workload cut into, and his fumble in the Super Bowl was a near-catastrophic moment -- his devastated reaction to which was caught expertly by NFL Films. But a big-picture view of Blount's year would reveal that he  posted the most prodictive "big back" season the Patriots have had in more than a decade.

Blount signed a one-year deal with the Patriots last offseason after seeing his 2015 prematurely ended by way of a hip injury. He turned 30 in December.

Magic Johnson named Lakers president of basketball ops, Kupchak fired

Magic Johnson named Lakers president of basketball ops, Kupchak fired

Magic Johnson was named the Los Angeles Lakers' president of basketball operations after longtime Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and vice president of basketball ops Jim Buss were fired, the team announced.

"Today I took a series of actions I believe will return the Lakers to the heights [late owner] Dr. Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightly expect,” Jeanie Buss, Jerry Buss' daughter, Jim Buss' brother and Lakers president and co-owner, said in a statement. “Effective immediately, Earvin Johnson will be in charge of all basketball operations and will report directly to me. Our search for a new General Manager to work with Earvin and Coach Luke Walton is well underway and we hope to announce a new General Manager in short order. Together, Earvin, Luke and our new General Manager will establish the foundation for the next generation of Los Angeles Lakers greatness.”

Johnson, the Hall of Famer guard who led L.A. to five NBA titles, said in the same statement: “It’s a dream come true to return to the Lakers as President of Basketball Operations working closely with Jeanie Buss and the Buss family. Since 1979, I’ve been a part of the Laker Nation and I’m passionate about this organization. I will do everything I can to build a winning culture on and off the court. We have a great coach in Luke Walton and good young players. We will work tirelessly to return our Los Angeles Lakers to NBA champions.”

Johnson, part of a group that owns MLB's Los Angeles Dodgers, returned to the organization as an adviser earlier this month. Johnson coached the Lakers briefly in the 1993-94 season, going 5-11. 

Johnson's new job with the Lakers won't change his role with the Dodgers, according to the L.A. Times.

The current Lakers have the third-worst record in the NBA at 19-39 after finishing with the second-worst mark in the league (17-65) last season. Kupchak was named an assistant GM under Jerry West in 1986 and in 2000 took over for West as GM.