You could argue Shane Victorino is injury prone. You also could argue his best days are behind him and that he won?t make a major impact even if he returns to the Boston Red Sox in due time.
But you can?t say Victorino doesn?t care.
Victorino has been limited to 50 games since the beginning of 2014. He?s essentially been a non-factor on the field since playing a huge role in the Red Sox?s 2013 World Series run and it?s likely he won?t be around beyond this season with free agency looming this winter. But as Boston looks to turn its 2015 season around after a disappointing start, Victorino is doing what he can to remain a clubhouse leader.
It?s not an easy situation.
?The thing that is frustrating for me is the fact that I’m not out there,? Victorino told WEEI.com?s Rob Bradford this week. ?It’s easy for one to talk. It’s easy for one to communicate. It’s easy for one to talk about things they see and try and help your teammates or help your team. But when you’re not out there?
?Have I earned the respect of being able to communicate or being able to do certain things from the experience of the game, even though I’m not on the field? Yes. But I always put myself in the shoes of the youngsters coming into the big leagues, watching older players. I remember sitting there and guys telling me things, and me thinking, ‘C’mon, you’re hurt or you’re not playing.’ It’s hard. Having those experiences and understanding that, it’s tough.?
Red Sox manager John Farrell said before Friday?s series opener against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium that Victorino, who has been sidelined with a calf injury, would participate in baserunning drills this weekend. The hope is the outfielder will begin a rehab assignment very soon, thus paving the way for his return to the lineup. Victorino hasn?t appeared in a game since May 23, though, and the time away from the diamond is weighing on him, particularly with the Red Sox struggling.
?I love to communicate. I love to talk about things I see,? Victorino told Bradford. ?But when I can’t go out there and produce it or perfect it or show by example, it’s hard.
?I love to lead by example. I love to go out there and run through a wall to make a catch. I love to take out a guy on the bases to break up a double play. Take a pitch in the ribs if I have to to get on base. That aspect is easier to translate when you’re out there. When you’re not, it’s tougher.?
Victorino?s hard-nosed style is admirable. And the Red Sox could use more of it at a time when there are questions about the club?s passion and will to win. Staying on the field has been problematic for the 34-year-old the last two seasons, however, and his influence over Boston?s situation has suffered as a result.
It?s not for lack of trying. His passion still is there.
Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports Images