|Shane Victorino, Vero Beach photo in 2004 (photo by Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)|
The comments started flowing once it was a given that Shane Victorino would be a Dodger this morning. Frankly, I expected the negativity, but I always liked the guy. I understand the venom some fans have towards Shane, but if they really understood the circumstances of Victorino's drive to beat the Dodgers, I think there would be a better understanding of what is is as a player.
Some of the tweets that commented on the trade said:
“Dodgers trade for public enemy no. 1”
“Do I have to like Victorino now?”
“I cannot root for this guy, no way!”
There were other comments that spoke of the waste it was to pick up another centerfielder and that he’d be playing out of position. Others mentioned his “down” year statistically or his mediocre stats while facing right handed pitching. Some were concerned with giving up Lindblom and Martin for him, stating that he is most likely a two month rental player. But for the most part, the complaining fans simply can’t get over the Kuroda incident in the playoffs and his history of beating us on the big stage.
|Shane Victorino gestures to Hiroki Kuroda to not throw near his head during 2008 NLCS (photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)|
I have to assume that most of these comments are coming from guys that simply can’t stomach the fact that Victorino beat our butts in two consecutive National League Championship Series’. And why wouldn’t he? The Dodgers gave up on this guy twice. They failed to protect him on the 40 man roster, preferring guys like Jason Repko and Chin Feng-Chen on the depth chart. Shane should have an axe to grind against the organization. And the second time when the Phils picked him up as a rule 5 draftee, they offered him back to the Dodgers and they turned around and said, “No, go ahead and keep him.”
While attending Spring Training at Vero Beach in the early 2000s, I noticed that Victorino was always very giving with is time and he definitely was a talker. He always would stop and chat with the fans. When he left to the Padres as a rule 5 pick in 2003, I figured he’d be gone for good. The kid had speed, defense and a decent stick. I was relieved to see them return him back to the club, but the Dodgers simply banished him to the minors. He never even sniffed a September call up.
Shane came up through the ranks as a Dodger. He shared the outfield with Jason Repko for several years. His teammates in the lower ranks were made up of a literal “who’s who” of Dodger farm hands from the era and included James Loney, Chad Billingsley, Edwin Jackson, Chin-Feng Chen, Joey Thurston, Koyie Hill, Willy Aybar, Joel Hanrahan, Bubba Crosby, Wilkin Ruan, Scott Proctor, and Steve Schmoll.
I’m glad he’s not a Giant, because I guarantee you he would be reminding us again that we released him wearing orange and black.
Victorino is a gamer. A guy that hustles like mad and is a pesky opponent. Sure, he has that sheepish grin and he’s a an irritant to opposing fans, but that’s because he’s good. He wins with a flash and a smile. He steals a bag or he takes the extra base. He makes flashy defensive gems and he ignites his team. The guy is a sparkplug. As his opponent, he makes you want to hate him, but I guarantee you, as a Dodger, fans are going to love this guy. He gives 110% and he is going to steal us some wins with his hustle. I absolutely love this pickup.
|The "Flyin Hawaiian"(photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)|
Victorino made his mark as a major leaguer as a Phillie, but he was groomed for the majors in the Dodger organization. Essentially I see this as a chance for the organization to reap the rewards of his minor league tutelage, even though it was a long time ago. He's back home. Unfortunately, Dan Evans and then later Paul DePodesta didn't see his value and let him go. He has been making us pay ever since as an opponent. He's a .357 career batter at Dodger Stadium with a .416 on base percentage. We could use numbers like that out of our left fielder.