- Gordon Edes, ESPN Staff Writer
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Shane Victorino, playing in his first game Monday against the Rays, batted right-handed against the right-handed Jake Odorizzi in his two plate appearances. He was hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance (he was plunked a league–leading 18 times last season, 11 while batting from the right side) and looked at a called third strike on his second.
He insists he’s leaving open the option of switch-hitting, and seems to be enjoying parrying questions regarding his intentions. Beginning last August, Victorino, a switch-hitter throughout his major league career, pretty much abandoned hitting from the left side.
“You guys keep asking that question,’’ he said. “What did you see today? No decision made yet. We’re all working through the process, and there’s no answer.’’
Manager John Farrell was not surprised that Victorino set up in the right-handed box.
“There wasn’t any doubt that he was going to hit right-handed,’’ Farrell said. “He’s hit a little bit in the cage left-handed. I don’t think he’s completely abandoning the left side of the plate, if that’s the approach taken, we’re certainly accepting of it.’’
Victorino is not listed to play in either game Tuesday (the Sox have split-squad games here and in Sarasota), and Wednesday is a scheduled off day for the entire team. He underwent surgery to release a nerve in his thumb in December, and also was given time to build up his legs and core, in hopes that he can avoid the hamstring and back issues that limited him to 122 games last season.
“Now it’s more important the motion of baserunning, swinging, getting out of the box,’’ he said. “Physically, that part’s behind me. I feel good at the end of the day.’’
Victorino said he believes he has plenty of time to be ready for the March 31 opener and will accumulate extra at-bats in minor-league games should he feel he needs them.