SARASOTA, Fla. — Shane Victorino has yet to play a game in spring training for the Red Sox. When he does come back, which should be soon, it may only be as a righthanded hitter.
Victorino largely abandoned switch hitting in August last season because of a strained left hamstring. It proved successful as he hit .300 with an .896 OPS in 115 plate appearances batting righthanded against a righthanded pitcher.
Victorino has been coy about his plans, refusing to say whether he will bat lefthanded again. But he has yet to take a swing batting lefthanded during batting practice sessions on the field.
“It’s almost going to be a game-time decision. I think he has his viewpoints on it and where his confidence is,” manager John Farrell said this morning. “He hasn’t told me that he’s eliminating switch hitting.”
Victorino is a natural righthanded hitter who learned to switch hit in 2002 when he was in the minors. He has been a better hitter righthanded over the course of his career.
“The right side has always been his strong side,” Farrell said. “I think last year his production against righthanded pitching probably has enabled him to be a little bit more open-minded to getting the majority of at-bats from that side of the plate.”
Farrell said the Red Sox support the idea.
“We want the most productive player,” he said. “If that’s what it lends to, we’d be perfectly fine with it if that’s what he opts to do.”
Batting righthanded Victorino hit a modest .216 in the postseason but drove in 12 runs over 14 games. He had big hits in Game 6 of the ALCS and Game 6 of the World Series.
“You look at the approach at the plate and the overall production and the confidence and you tend to think that has a chance to [continue],” Farrell said. “Time will tell.”
Victorino has been held out of games so far for several reasons. He is recovering from surgery on his right thumb and has been doing extra work to strengthen groin muscles that gave him problems last season.
“Hopefully by sometime early this coming week he will be on the field,” Farrell said. “All his on-field work has been free, no issues. That’s been encouraging.”