Victorino will eventually return to switch-hitting
BOSTON -- Shane Victorino hasn't abandoned switch-hitting altogether. He has simply abandoned it for the time being, and the end date is open-ended.
Victorino originally started hitting exclusively right-handed in mid-August because he felt his left hamstring wasn't giving him enough stability to hit effectively from the left side. But since it's been working so well -- he's hit .306 with a .393 OBP and .923 OPS in 56 plate appearances as a right-handed batter against right-handed pitching -- why not continue it?
"Why mess with success at this point?" Red Sox manager John Farrell said.
There's been a consistency developed in Victorino's swing since he ditched the left-handed at-bats, and his power has really come alive. Since the All-Star break, Victorino has as many home runs (eight) as Pedro Alvarez, Mike Trout and Justin Upton. Only 13 Major Leaguers have more.
"He's hitting from such a stronger base on the right-handed side of the plate," Farrell said.
So much so that Farrell was actually against Victorino trying to lay a sacrifice bunt down with Jacoby Ellsbury on first base late in Thursday's 3-2 loss to the Orioles.
"He attempted to bunt on his own last night," Farrell said. "He's been our hottest hitter. [I] didn't want to take the bat out of his hand. And yet he's got a lot of knowledge of the game and is going to react accordingly inside it.
"The right-handed side, it's been interesting. The game against Arizona that he asked, 'Hey, if there's nobody on base, how about me hitting right-handed, right on right?' 'Have at it.' He hasn't looked back since."
Victorino dodged questions Wednesday about the severity of his hamstring injury.
"How much am I playing hurt? Ha. That's for me to know and you not to know," said Victorino, who added that he would eventually return to switch-hitting.
"I'm still working to try to get back to the left side. People may differ, but I'm still a switch-hitter. That's what I was brought here to do. Like I said, I take it one game at a time, continue to work and see how I feel."
The lack of familiarity for opposing right-handed pitchers, who have very little video of Victorino in right-on-right situations, may also be playing a role in his current success. Farrell said that could wear off with time.
"Initially, right-handers, when he stepped into the box right-handed, I'm not going to say you saw a different expression on the face, but it's something they haven't seen," Farrell said. "As evident by the number of hit-by-pitches from right-handed pitchers. He's been hit [six] times in a short period of time. But like anything, I'm sure the book will get out."