Victorino gets standing ovation in return to Philly
Early on in Shane Victorino's rehab from back surgery, the 2015 schedule was announced, and the right fielder got the ultimate motivator.
The Red Sox would be opening their season in Philadelphia, the city Victorino played his heart out for 987 games over eight seasons.
And there Victorino was on Monday, back in the Red Sox's lineup, and playing his first game in Philadelphia since he was traded in 2012. Victorino made the trip to Philly with the Red Sox in '13, but he was on the disabled list.
When Victorino trotted down the third-base line with the other starters during the pregame introductions, he received a loud round of cheers from the Phillies' faithful.
When he stepped in for his first at-bat since back surgery -- and his first in Philly since July 25, 2012 -- the crowd roared even louder and for longer. In a classy moment, Phillies ace Cole Hamels and catcher Carlos Ruiz took some time to start the at-bat, allowing Victorino to soak in the ovation before he stepped out of the batter's box to tip his batting helmet in appreciation.
Victorino completed the at-bat, the first in his career against Hamels, with a walk. Hamels then committed a balk, putting Victorino into scoring position. The eventful comeback continued when Victorino stole third, but he didn't end up scoring.
Philadelphians might not always be the kindest to players who wear the opposing uniform, but Victorino was a central figure in helping the Phillies win the 2008 World Series, and he was a popular player throughout his time there.
"I obviously started here, got an opportunity as a young kid to become the baseball player that I am, and fortunately now, got moved to a great city with great fans, a great organization," said Victorino. "To come back in '13 and not get an opportunity to play and still get the ovation I did in between innings, as I said last year when I was facing back surgery, there was a date on my calendar that I circled, that I wanted to be here for and be healthy, more importantly, and that was today here in Philadelphia."
Victorino helped the Red Sox win it all two years ago, and he hopes to help fuel another title run this year.
"I'm a Boston Red Sox. I'm focused on that," Victorino said. "I'm focused on being the player that I was coming off back surgery. I'm glad I got the opportunity, that my manager stayed by me and said from Day 1 that if I'm healthy, I'd be the guy.
"That says a lot about the organization, their faith in me, the manager has faith in me as a player. We have a great outfield, a lot of depth, and I understand that. For me to get the nod on Opening Day in right field is a big testament to the manager, the organization, for having faith in me."