Red Sox introduce Shane Victorino

While the status of Mike Napoli remains uncertain, the Red Sox introduced outfielder Shane Victorino at a press conference on Thursday.

The Red Sox signed Victorino to a three-year, $39 million deal. If Jacoby Ellsbury remains on the roster next season, Victorino will likely see significant playing time in right field and occasionally spell Ellsbury in center field. The switch-hitting Vict0rino might also play left field when opposing teams start a right-hander since the right-handed hitting Jonny Gomes is more comfortable facing southpaws.

Victorino, who turned 32 on November 30, is a valuable addition to the Red Sox lineup since he is a switch-hitter and proficiently plays all three outfield spots. Last year, while hampered with a hand injury, he batted .255 with 11 home runs, 55 RBI and 39 stolen bases between Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 2011, he hit .279 with a .847 OPS, 17 home runs, 61 RBI, 19 stolen bases and 16 triples for the Phillies.

A player reminiscent of the Dirt Dawgs that occupied Boston’s roster in 2003 and 2004, Victorino is a popular teammate and gives the Red Sox versatility beyond 2013. Ellsbury is expected to depart via free agency next offseason, and the organization has Ryan Kalish, Jackie Bradley and Bryce Brentz as promising outfielders who will likely be part of the club’s long-term plans.

Bradley is considered the heir apparent in center field when Ellsbury leaves, but if he is not Major League ready, Victorino can start there in 2014 and Kalish or Brentz can fill the void in right field.

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