BOSTON — Shane Victorino doesn’t want to talk about it. Then again, there might not be much to talk about.
Victorino, who is typically a switch-hitter, has been hitting solely right-handed of late, even against right-handed pitchers. It’s a very unique adjustment by the 32-year-old outfielder, although the reasoning behind Victorino’s change might actually be quite simple.
“He hasn’t abandoned the switch-hitting situation in general,” manager John Farrell said Friday, “but I think he feels so confident from the right-handed side of the plate, why mess with success at this point?”
It’s a valid point by the Red Sox skipper. Victorino has been absolutely destroying the baseball this month, so while we might all find his huge alteration to be fascinating, it could simply boil down to him riding a hot approach.
“Hitting solely from the right-handed side of the plate of late, he’s proven to himself that not only can he handle right-handed pitching, but he’s handled them with power,” Farrell said. “I think it just goes into the complete player that he’s shown for us. Base-stealing capability, well above-average defender and a good offensive player.”
Victorino has been evasive when asked about his recent right-handed-only approach, which makes sense. Victorino has also been unwilling to admit just how banged up he is physically, and it’s reasonable to think that the two go hand-in-hand.
“Well, he feels more comfortable from the right side of the plate because of the hamstring,” Farrell said. “And that’s led to increased confidence and production and he’s stayed with it.
“When he hits left-handed, while it doesn’t bother him to run or play defense as we’ve seen — with some of the plays he’s made [Thursday] and recently — I think it kind of exposes him to the potential of aggravating the left hamstring when he hits left-handed, so he’s not doing it.”
For the record, Victorino hit right-handed against right-handed pitchers just eight times in 2012 and three times in 2011. This season, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was the only right-hander who Victorino batted right-handed against before making his adjustment in Arizona on Aug. 5. Making matters even more interesting is that Victorino has a .277/.320/.393 slash line while batting left-handed this season, which is respectable. In other words, it isn’t as if Victorino suddenly fell off a cliff in the other batter’s box.
Victorino — batting right-handed — reached in three of his five plate appearances Friday, and he now has 11 RBIs over his last five games. Overall, he is hitting .477 (21-for-48) with five homers, five doubles and 14 RBIs in his last 12 games, and he leads the Red Sox with a single-month career-high 22 RBIs in August.
While it remains to be seen whether or not Victorino eventually goes back to hitting left-handed against right-handed pitchers, the best course of action might just be to enjoy the ride.