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Among the many, many moves that the Red Sox made in the offseason, none was scrutinized with quite the same sense of incredulity as the team's decision to sign free agent outfielder Shane Victorino to a three-year, $39 million deal. Why on earth, many wondered, would the Sox sign a 32-year-old coming off the worst year of his career to such a contract?
The outfielder's performance in a single game on Monday does not offer a sufficient explanation, but Victorino's impactful all-around game in the Sox' 6-3 victory certainly commanded notice. He went 3-for-3 (three singles) while getting hit by a pitch, scoring twice and executing a sacrifice bunt. Defensively, his contributions were even more significant, as he had a second-inning outfield assist and then a game-saving grab on which he chased down a bases-loaded, two-lout liner for the third out.
His defense in the Red Sox' 6-3 victory proved game-changing -- something that the Red Sox very much had in mind when they signed the two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove center fielder to patrol right field.
I was one of the many who thought that the Sox brutally overpaid for Shane Victorino. He was signed in the midst of the Red Sox' sudden urge to find good clubhouse guys and while Victorino is definitely a great guy to have in the clubhouse, was it really worth $13 million a year for someone who struggled at the plate last season? Why not just let Jackie Bradley Jr. patrol right field if you want someone who act like a second center fielder defensively while letting him catch up to MLB pitching?
He's put some of those worries to bed with a strong presence as the everyday No. 2 hitter. He's batting .333, including the 3-for-3 effort last night, but he is slugging just .352 and has just one extra base hit, a double in the second game of the season. Surely, he won't be just a singles hitter all season but he has been making up for his with his aggressive play on the basepaths.
But the defense? Even better than even Ben Cherington had hoped fo and last night he was a highlight reel. Victorino showed off his ability to cut off the ball as he kept Nick Swisher to a long single in the second. Later in the inning, Lonnie Chisenhall thought he could stretch a single into a double but Victorino made a fool out of him and threw him out. Then in the fifth he showed off his range by tracking down Asdrubal Cabrera's bases loaded drive that could've done some serious damage.
Victorino's played an integral role both on and off the field and he's been a big part of why the Sox are 10-4 and on a five game winning streak. It's still really early in the season but Victorino has already proven his worth this season.
Globe: Pen is mightier | Patience pays off for Carp | Herald: Bailey makes most of chance to close | Victorino's defense helps Red Sox to 6-3 victory over Indians | CSNNE: Five straight | Expectation is Ortiz gets activated Friday | Carp makes most of rare opportunity | Bradley handling opportunity well | WEEI: Two Sox players suspended for drugs | Farrell: hope Sox offer some normalcy