Shane Victorino hasn't appeared in the Boston Red Sox lineup since May 23. But on July 13, he had the opportunity to play at Fenway Park again.
Victorino has been sidelined with a hamstring injury twice this season. In this most recent stint on the disabled list, Victorino has been experiencing some back troubles as well. However, he is encouraged by his progress on the recovery front and anticipates being back with Boston quite soon.
“Physically, I feel good,” Victorino told the Boston Herald. “Played five, played seven. That’s the thing about at-bats, that’s the thing I’ve still got to get adjusted to. But it’s all part of it. We’ll figure it out. I’m a professional hitter and I should figure it out sooner or later."
On Sunday, Victorino played a game with the Class-A Lowell Spinners of the New York-Penn League. It's not often that a major league star will rehab at such a low level of the minor leagues, but there was a unique situation surrounding the Spinners that day.
They played at Fenway Park — home of the Boston Red Sox.
Futures at Fenway
Tabbed as a "Futures at Fenway" game, the Spinners hosted the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.
“You know, it’s been exciting for me,” Victorino told the Herald. “Not exciting for me to come and rehab, but exciting for me to be around these kids, to have the honor of them asking questions about the game and how the game should be played and what we can do to become better baseball players. That part, for me, means a lot, that they’re willing to come up to me and ask me and want to learn from me. So that means a lot to me.
“But, you know, never thought I’d be at the ‘Futures at Fenway,’ but you know, we’ll take as many games as we can, at-bats as we can and enjoy every moment.”
While it was the Scrappers that sat in the home dugout, where the Red Sox would set up shop for their 81 home games, Victorino still butted-in throughout his normal stomping grounds. He used his normal locker at Fenway, while the minor league teams used other part of the ballpark to dress and shower.
Victorino went 0 for 2 in the game and drew a walk. He flew out to centerfield in the first inning and popped out to right in the third. He drew a walk to lead off the fifth inning then was pulled for a pinch runner.
Victorino has appeared in only 21 games for the Red Sox this season. At the major league level, he sports a .241 batting average with one home run and 10 RBIs. The right fielder, now in his 10th big league season, is a career .276 hitter.
He came to the Red Sox at the beginning of the 2013 season and helped the Red Sox win a World Series, though that's when his injury problems started. The four-time Gold Glove winner and two-time All-Star missed 60 games in his first season with Boston after playing in at least 130 games, each season, for the first eight years of his career.
Victorino hates taking days off, that's why this long period of restlessness has become hard to deal with for the veteran.
“Frustrating, to say the least,” he told Maureen Mullen of boston.com. “And also watching what’s going on you feel just as guilty, if not guiltier, that you’re not out there.”
In 2009, as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, Victorino led the National League with 13 triples. He added on to that mark in 2011, leading the league again, with 16.
That trademarked speed may not be part of Victorino's repertoire when he does nurse himself back to 100-percent, or as close as possible. Victorino's glory days may be behind him. The 33-year old has been a part of two World Series teams and he has one more year left on his contract with Boston.
If it takes longer than anticipated for the rehab-process to come full circle, or ff these injury problems persist, it may be time for Victorino to hang up the cleats.