The Flyin’ Hawaiian was dealt from Philadelphia to the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer and wound up hitting .255 — 20 points below his career average — with 11 homers and 39 RBIs.
“There was a lot on my plate,” he said. “There were things you can’t 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.”
The 32-year-old outfielder became a free agent after the season and signed a $39 million, three-year contract with the Red Sox, coming off a last-place finish at 69-93 last year for their most losses since 1965.
“People talk about the storied franchise, talk about the history behind that ballpark, when I was there doing that 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 years,” he said. “I’m excited. I’m going to go out there and give 100 percent, and I’m going to let the fans make the decision on falling in love or not.”
Victorino joins first baseman Mike Napoli, shortstop Stephen Drew, pitchers Ryan Dempster and Joel Hanrahan, outfielder Jonny Gomes and catcher David Ross on the new-look Red Sox, who fired manager Bobby Valentine and replaced him with John Farrell.
“We’re not coming in here to try to change the culture,” Victorino said. “More than anything, it’s just adding to the pieces of the puzzle and to go out there and have fun. Most important I think that’s what we need to do. Winning cures all. When you don’t win, people are always going to wonder and find answers of why. They’re going to blame the clubhouse, the atmosphere.”
While Victorino has been primarily a center fielder, he figures to play in right for the Red Sox, with Jacoby Ellsbury remaining in center. Before Victorino leaves to play for the United States in the World Baseball Classic, he hopes to become more familiar with Ellsbury.
“The first thing you look for in right field is a right fielder that has above-average range, center field-type range,” Farrell said. “That was a criteria that was high on the list and certainly Shane fits that. We wanted high-energy players. He fits that, as well.”
Victorino expects right field to be a challenge.
“I started as a right fielder and I have a great center fielder that’s going to be playing alongside of me,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot of work. Definitely Fenway, right field’s a little different.”