Shane Victorino gave up switch-hitting down the stretch last season and Red Sox manager John Farrell told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe today that the veteran outfielder is considering hitting exclusively from the right side of the plate this season.
Nothing is official yet, but this would be a positive development for the Red Sox, as Victorino has enjoyed more success from the right side during his career. It makes sense, as the 33-year-old is a natural right-handed hitter and took up switch-hitting in 2002. While it was a small sample, Victorino hit .300/.386/.510 with six home runs in 115 plate appearances batting righty against right-handed pitchers during the regular season last year.
“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.”
Now that Jacoby Ellsbury is with the Yankees, the Red Sox need to settle on a replacement out of the leadoff spot. Daniel Nava has been mentioned as a possibility, but it’s fair to say that Farrell will be more likely to go with Victorino if he’s hitting exclusively from the right side.
Victorino has yet to make his spring debut, as he’s taking things slowly after offseason thumb surgery among other factors, but Farrell hopes to have him in the lineup early next week.
Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.
The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.
For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.