ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shane Victorino had surgery on Tuesday to repair two herniated disks in his lower back. Yet there he was on Friday afternoon, walking through a gate in right field at Angel Stadium, making his way to the dugout and climbing two flights of stairs to the clubhouse to visit his Red Sox teammates.
The 33-year-old right fielder even had a backpack slung over one shoulder.
“I feel good,” Victorino said before the Red Sox played the Los Angeles Angels. “Physically I feel good. Some of the pains and symptoms I had going into the surgery, with the shooting pains down my legs, are gone.”
Victorino said there were large herniations — or tears — in two disks close to his tailbone. One was more recent than the other. Dr. Robert Watkins, a specialist in Marina Del Ray, Calif., handled the surgery.
This is the first surgery Victorino has had beyond having a torn thumb ligament repaired last winter. But he is “beyond confident” he can be the player he once was.
“My body feels good now,” Victorino said. “But I can’t do anything for a month other than just walk.”
Victorino has been told to avoid bending, lifting, and twisting and that makes such simple tasks as getting into bed difficult. But he is approaching the rehabilitation process with his customary enthusiasm.
“I’m always up and moving but I always have to remember this is a process for me and we’re starting from square one,” Victorino said.
Back and hamstring issues limited to Victorino to 30 games this season and resulted in three stays on the disabled list. A player critical to the team’s success in 2013 — Victorino had an .801 OPS, 21 stolen bases, and won a Gold Glove — was not the same athlete.
Victorino, who is signed for one more season at $13 million, hopes the surgery will allow him to move past the physical issues.
“Hopefully this is the last of a lot of what we dealt with the last two years,” he said. “I feel very good. I couldn’t feel any happier. You never want to have surgery. You never want to be in that position. But I think this, for me, was a surgery that was probably something in the making and needed to get done.”
Victorino said the Red Sox being out of contention made the decision easier. But there may not have been much choice. He was activated off the disabled list July 19 and played only nine games before being shut down again.
“I saw some of the guys today and I told them it’s not fun watching,” Victorino said. “Understanding where we’re at and what we’re focusing on, it was a time for me to get this done and be ready for 2015.”
Victorino is confident he will be ready to participate in spring training. His plans are a follow-up exam with Watkins on Monday before spending time at his home in Las Vegas. Once he is cleared to do more than walk, Victorino hopes to rejoin the Red Sox in September.
For an outfielder, back surgery typically takes up to six months to fully recovery from. But Victorino believes he could be ready sooner than that.
“For me I want to rush because I want to be back out there. But I understand we have a time frame that we’re going to work with,” he said. “If we start now . . . you can’t tell me I’m not ready to be full speed [for spring training].”
Since Victorino went on the disabled list, the Red Sox obtained corner outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig via trade. General manager Ben Cherington has said a healthy Victorino will find his way into the lineup. But much is uncertain.
“Left, right, center, whatever it might be,” Victorino said. “I pay attention to what’s been said. People are probably understanding that if Cespedes is going to be the right fielder, where are you going to play? I have every intention of being the right fielder next year. I don’t have any mind-set that I’m not going to be the right fielder.
“Wherever I’m going to play, it doesn’t matter to me. I just want to be out there. I want to be healthy. I want to be part of this team.”