FORT MYERS, Fla. — Right fielder Shane Victorino didn’t begin hitting from the left side of the plate until he reached Double-A with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2003.
Now, he may stop doing it entirely.
Victorino is playing coy, but Red Sox manager John Farrell suggested that the right fielder may give up switch-hitting after having success batting exclusively righthanded for the final two months of last season and the playoffs. Victorino ditched his lefthanded swing in August because nagging back and hamstring injuries made it uncomfortable.
“It’s almost going to be a game-time decision,” Farrell said. “I think he has his viewpoints on it, where is confidence is, but he hasn’t told me that he’s eliminating switch-hitting. (The) right side has always been his strong side, and I think last year his production against righthanded pitchers probably enabled him to be a little more open-minded to get the majority of the at-bats from that side of the plate.”
Indeed, Victorino batted .300 (30-for-100) with a .386 on-base percentage, boosted by 11 hit-by-pitches, from the right side against right-handed pitchers last year. Farrell said he won’t object to Victorino hitting exclusively right-handed or sticking with switch-hitting, as long as he’s comfortable at the plate.
Last season, he finished with a .294 batting average with 15 home runs, 61 RBIs, and 26 doubles. He also stole 21 bases.
Peavy turns in strong effort
In Thursday’s spring training game, Boston righthander Jake Peavy turned in a solid three-inning effort and the Red Sox went on to beat the Minnesota Twins 4-3 at Hammond Stadium.
Peavy gave up a run on two hits while walking two and striking out two. It was his first start of the spring and he showed no ill effects of a cut to his left hand, an accident with a fishing knife in early March.
The Red Sox scored two runs in the third inning, aided by two errors by Minnesota third baseman Trevor Plouffe and first baseman Joe Mauer. Xander Bogaerts reached when Plouffe bobbled a ground ball and Bogaerts later scored when Mauer dropped a pickoff throw. The second run came in on Victorino’s single.
Dustin Pedroia provided the winning edge for Boston with a two-run double in the fifth. Daniel Nava reached on an error by shortstop Danny Santana and Victorino followed with a bunt single. Both scored on Pedroia’s double.
On Friday, righthander Clay Buchholz takes the mound for the Red Sox in his third start during the exhibition season against the Blue Jays at 1 p.m. in Dunedin, Fla.
PA system irks Lackey
Boston Red Sox pitcher John Lackey came through his first spring training start on Tuesday without incident, although there was one thing that irked him: He didn’t like the Red Sox’ idea to have balls and strikes announced over the public address system after each pitch at JetBlue Park.
“That’s a bad idea,” the righthanded Lackey said. “Whoever did that, hasn’t been between the lines. For me it’s not that big a deal because I’m not that worried about throwing strikes. But I could foresee a situation where somebody’s struggling throwing strikes, you’re just pretty much beating the guy over the head with it. He realizes it was a ball. He doesn’t want to hear it again.”
After a deliberately delayed start to spring training (the Red Sox wanted to take it slow to ensure that Lackey’s arm had recovered after a busy postseason), Lackey is on track to start the second game of the season, April 2 in Baltimore.
Lackey pitched 2 ⅔ innings against the Marlins in 5-4 split-squad loss. He gave up four hits while striking out two and not walking a batter. He gave up just one hit in the first two innings.
The Red Sox are keeping him on a deliberate pace as he pitched 215 innings last season after missing the 2012 season after elbow ligament-replacement surgery.
Lester to start in opener
Boston lefty Jon Lester will be the Red Sox’ opening day starter for the fourth consecutive season.
In what came as no surprise, especially after Lester’s stellar postseason, Farrell announced the big lefty will be first to take the ball in the season-opener March 31 in Baltimore. He will be followed in the rotation by Lackey, LHP Felix Doubront, RHP Jake Peavy and RHP Clay Buchholz, in that order.
Having Doubront in the No. 3 spot over Buchholz counts a bit of a surprise, but Doubront has pitched well against the Orioles. Also, the Red Sox want to keep the injury-plagued Buchholz fresh, and with two days off in April after the opening series, they may be able to build in additional rest.