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Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Shane Victorino: I'll be smart

By Gordon Edes
ESPNBoston.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Shane Victorino estimates he arrived here around midnight Monday, but that didn't keep him from being the first player in the Red Sox clubhouse Tuesday morning. He confessed to having gotten a "little itchy and antsy" to start.

Given his energy level, it will probably be no easy task, but after undergoing surgery to release a nerve in his thumb in December, the 33-year-old outfielder will have to take spring training at less than his usual pace.

Victorino said he has done some dry swinging, but otherwise his baseball activity has been very limited. The goal, he said, is to be ready for the first day of the regular season, so he's prepared not to push it.

"The healing process, I'm getting back to somewhat feeling good,'' he said. "I'll ramp up some activity, but I'll definitely work through it, be smart about it, take our time, work through the process.''

Victorino said it matters little to him whether he will hit leadoff. The loss of Jacoby Ellsbury to the Yankees via free agency leaves the Red Sox looking for a new top-of-the-order presence.

"I don't care where I hit,'' Victorino said. "I said it all along -- whatever opportunity presents itself, whether leadoff or down in the lineup, I'm not really focused on all that. It's just about getting myself prepared. Wherever they put me in the batting order, I'll be ready.''

Victorino, a switch-hitter, batted exclusively right-handed last season due to assorted injuries, including hamstring, back and thumb issues.

The plan this season?

"I'll let you guys watch and learn,'' he said.