Victorino signed a three-year deal with the Boston Red Sox over the winter and departed from spring training early to go represent his country. In five games with Boston during camp, he went 0-for-11 with a pair of runs, four walks and three strikeouts.
One of four outfielders on manager Joe Torre’s United States roster, Victorino played a variety of roles. Ryan Braun, Adam Jones and Giancarlo Stanton were more dangerous threats, so Victorino didn’t see much time in the outfield. He did get his fair share of playing time, though.
Unfortunately for Victorino and Team USA, the Americans’ dream of winning the WBC came up short. The United States went 2-1 in Pool D play, but later lost two of three in Pool 2 and were eliminated from further contention. It’s the third straight year Team USA failed to make the semifinal round.
But let’s focus in on the play of Boston’s newest right fielder, examining how he did in the World Baseball Classic.
I’ll give credit to any player that wants to play for their country. There seems to be a big disconnect between some of the top players in Major League Baseball and their desire to play in the World Baseball Classic, a topic that’s been widely discussed since the rosters were announced.
But that can’t be said for Victorino, who took part in his second WBC. It was an interesting decision considering he was new with Boston and decided that instead of developing close ties with his new teammates that he should take advantage of an opportunity that doesn’t come around too often.
Victorino is no longer in his prime, but he was more than proud to accept the offer. According to Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston, Victorino said:
To represent your country is something you dream of as a child. Putting on a USA jersey, I never thought growing up in Hawaii I’d wear a USA jersey and put on No. 50, to represent my state. I’m excited to wear 50 again. I’m pumped.
It’s encouraging to know that he so was excited to play for Team USA. Hopefully he’s just as excited to play for the Red Sox the next three years.
In-Game Results: F
I hate to say it, but Victorino was a major disappointment in my eyes at the World Baseball Classic. I understand that it’s a little early in the year to be playing such meaningful games and maybe he wasn’t as prepared as he could’ve been, but he was a non-factor for Team USA.
Here are Victorino’s game-by-game results:
Mexico vs. USA: 0-for-1 (PH)
USA vs. Italy: DNP
USA vs. Canada: 1-for-5, RBI, 3 K (LF)
Puerto Rico vs. USA: DNP
Dominican Republic vs. USA: 0-for-1 (PH)
Puerto Rico vs. USA: 0-for-4, 2 K (DH)
As you can clearly tell, Victorino didn’t see a lot of time on the field. He started just twice and came off the bench twice, sitting the remaining two games. Even still, he didn’t make much of an impact. Combined, he went 1-for-11 with one RBI and five strikeouts.
Now, we can’t just throw out the excuse that the other pitchers were just better than the Americans because some players on Team USA played very well. Take David Wright, for instance. Even though he missed the final game due to injury, he went 7-for-16 in the WBC with three extra-base hits and 10 RBI.
I’m not trying to compare Victorino to Wright; I'm just stating that hitting in the international competition was possible. In fact, Victorino was the only player on Team USA with at least 10 at-bats not to hit at least .200. His bat just wasn’t there during the WBC.
Once again, I love that Victorino decided to play. Since spring training started, he’s had just as many total at-bats as many other Red Sox players despite leaving camp to play in the World Baseball Classic. You can’t blame a guy for wanting to play for his country instead of playing exhibition games with the team he recently signed with.
But as I’ve stated, despite the experience, Victorino was horrible for Team USA. The United States as a whole played poorly at times and Victorino certainly was one of the reasons why. Does he deserve all of the blame? Absolutely not, but he deserves some of it. He only had one hit in 11 at-bats. That’s not good no matter which way you spin it.
Victorino couldn’t help Team USA win the WBC title, but here’s to hoping he makes a difference with the Red Sox in 2013.