Well, of course he did. Philadelphia is awesome.
Shane Victorino was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer as the trade deadline loomed and Ruben Amaro Jr. opted to begin a bit of an overhaul project with the roster. Victorino was shipped to Los Angeles and Hunter Pence was sent to San Francisco in exchange for an assortment of players. Though he had been traded to the Dodgers, Victorino's impending free agency left him as a potential target for the Phillies this off-season. Last week Victorino signed with the Boston Red Sox instead, agreeing to a three-year contract worth $39 million. That kind of contract was certainly not going to come close to anything the Phillies would have even considered offering Victorino, if it got to a point that he was going to be a serious candidate to fill the hole in center field.
Of course, the Phillies brought on Ben Revere from Minnesota in a trade involving Vance Worley and minor league arm Trevor May.
During a recent radio interview with WEEI in Boston Victorino admitted to being a little distracted by his potential future while in Philadelphia last season. The following choice quotes were provided by Sports Radio Interviews:
We believe it’s better to learn how to fail in big markets like Philadelphia because it prepares you to play in Boston. Do you agree?
“Absolutely, 100 percent of that. Am I going to miss Philly? One hundred percent. But again, I will always call that home. It will always have a special place in my heart. When you talk about the fans and all that kind of stuff that we were able to create, and at the end of the day it’s about going out there and having fun. It’s about going out there and being the team we can be. Here in Boston you have that great fan base. You have the people who are hard-working, that love the game, who are passionate about the game, who know the game and understand the game. All those things where, yes ,it’s an added incentive to come to a place like this. And I’ve been very fortunate to play eight seasons in Philly and have that opportunity to play in a market like that and, again, for me it’s going out there and just being myself and going there and having fun and giving 100 percent. At the end of the day, I can’t make everyone happy, but I go out there and play hard and play the game correctly. That’s all I can do.”
It should not be a surprise to hear Victorino speak highly of Philadelphia. This was where his career really became something and where he became a part of the community. We all remember his ups and downs on the field but we can not look past Victorino's impact off the field, perhaps best exemplified by his work with his foundation and his efforts to re-open a Boys And Girls Club. Philadelphia will always hold a special place in Victorino's heart, and years from now he will be celebrated by Phillies fans for his role in being a part of the 2008 World Series championship.
Trading Victorino, in my opinion, was still a good move for the Phillies because they needed to change the make-up of the team. Victorino's flaws had became a liability but it would have been interesting to see what would have happened if he had been signed to a contract extension and given some job security.
As many suspected last summer, Victorino admitted that some of his struggles with the Phillies came from thinking about an uncertain future heading in to free agency.
What played into your struggles last year?
“[The talk of being traded because it was a contract year] definitely played into it. … You can’t control what happens off the field, and I think sometimes, as athletes, and the nature of the beast is you want to do this and you want that and you want the best for you, but at the end of the day all you want to do is go out there and play the game. Last year, I think early on I let a lot of that get to me. I wanted to stay in Philly and I wanted to get a contract done and this was before the season started at the end of spring training. Then obviously not getting something done and going into the season hoping that I would stay in Philly and all those kind of things. You can’t control what happens off the field. You can only control what happens on the field. Shifting my focus to that and trying to finish as strong as I could was my goal, and again, I’m a Red Sox. I put on that uniform for the first time today in that press conference and I’m excited.”
Victorino was later asked about where he would like to bat in the Red Sox lineup and playing with former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. "He was a great teammate, he was great to be around."
You can listen to the audio of the interview here.