Bad news for Red Sox prospect Mookie Betts: manager John Farrell considers Shane Victorino the current favorite for the job in right field. Farrell said, “If Shane Victorino is fully capable and fully healthy, he’s our right fielder,” per Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.
Victorino, 34, logged just 30 games last season due to recurring hamstring problems and a bulging disk in his back. He had been coming off of a very productive 2013 season with the Red Sox, swatting 15 home runs and swiping 21 bases.
The Red Sox have Hanley Ramirez in left field and Rusney Castillo in center. With Farrell’s vote of confidence for Victorino, that likely leaves Betts headed to Triple-A to start the season barring injury or a great spring showing on the youngster’s part. However, neither Victorino nor Ramirez are strong bets to stay healthy over the course of 162 games, so there’s a decent chance Betts finds playing time at some point anyway.
José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.
Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”
In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”
Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”
Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:
Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”
I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.