Boston Red Sox fans got a welcome sight on Monday afternoon as right fielder Shane Victorino made his Spring Training game debut against the Tampa Bay Rays at Jet Blue Park in Fort Myers. Victorino had not played even the slightest bit after having thumb surgery in the offseason. He batted twice, ending his day at 0 for 1 plus a hit-by-pitch and a run scored.
Victorino was recovering slowly and did not try to push himself too hard too fast. In addition, as noted on NBC Sports’ RotoWorld, Victorino was working on strengthening his groin muscles, which caused him some problems last year even though it did not directly lead to his missing time. His missed games were due more to strained hamstrings, which could get better with his groin strengthening program.
Victorino has also decided to stop switch hitting and bat exclusively right-handed — at least in games. He has always hit better right handed, and he had success when he made the switch at the end of last season. He will continue to practice from both sides as he could return to switch hitting at some point later.
Overall, Victorino hit .294/.351/.451 with 15 HR, 61, RBI, and 21 SB last year. He hit just .215 in the postseason, but he made his hits count, including his ALCS-winning grand slam in Game 6 against the Tigers and a huge three-run double in Game 6 of the World Series against the Cardinals.
Meanwhile, pitcher Jake Peavy, out with a lacerated finger, plans to make his first Spring Training start on Thursday against the Minnesota Twins. Peavy cut his finger with a kitchen knife at his home just as camp began, and initial reports had him on the disabled list when the season begins on March 31. Peavy, though, has healed well, and he should get in enough innings to get ready in time for the start of the season. He may need a little extra time before making his regular-season debut, but he should start the season on the active roster.
Last year, Peavy was 4-1 with a 4.04 ERA and 1.160 WHIP in 10 starts with Boston after coming over from the Chicago White Sox mid-season. He had some trouble in the postseason, but he figures to be a mid-rotation starter this year.