FORT MYERS, Fla. — Outfielder Shane Victorino on Thursday blasted the suggestion that he wanted the Red Sox to trade Mookie Betts for Cole Hamels as a means of improving his own job security.
While Victorino, in a 10-minute interview at his locker, did not back away from his recent comments in the Philadelphia Daily News suggesting that the Red Sox should be open to trading prospects for the Phillies ace, he disputed the notion articulated on the “Felger & Mazz” program on 98.5 The Sports Hub that he was trying to pave the way for Betts’s exit.
“These individuals, who made the situation bigger than it needed to be, have no credibility making statements behind the mic,” said Victorino. “Come in the clubhouse, ask me face-to-face what the situation is and what was being said.
“A question was asked to me about getting Cole Hamels. I said, ‘Hey, if you can get Cole Hamels, I’ll be all for it.’ Nothing against anyone in this clubhouse. I said from day one, we’re fine with what we have. We can go and win with what we have. But if you can add another element of a guy who has been there, I said why wouldn’t you?”
Victorino bristled at the notion that his statements were directed at Betts. He described the characterization that he sought Betts’s departure as “frustrating” and “hurtful.”
“I never mentioned anybody’s name,” Victorino said. “That’s the thing that frustrates me more than anything. It’s individuals who sit behind the mic, who take a story and they make it into a big fish rather than keeping it a little fish.
“All I said was, ‘Hey, if we can get Cole Hamels and it’s giving up two or three guys, I’m all for it.’ I never said anybody’s name. I never said an individual’s name. And you guys are quick to the assumption that I was trying to call out my teammate or trying to get him shipped away.
“That’s the last thing this guy is trying to do. If there’s one person that’s an advocate of the individual who was named in that article, Mookie Betts, it’s me. I don’t have any fear or feel like there’s any competition that I’ve got to get him shipped out of here. No. That’s the part where individuals put words in your mouth.
“Don’t get behind the mic and be a coward and make a situation, put words in my mouth, because not once in that article did I mention someone’s name.”
While Victorino said he wasn’t speaking specifically about Betts — whom he characterized as being in a separate class of prospect from others, given both his skill set and “his willingness to learn” — he did not back away from his larger point regarding a belief that teams should be willing to pursue established stars in exchange for prospects.
“I said if you can give up two or three prospects — it could be anybody; it could be a second- or third-tier guy — the situation I’ve been in my whole career, I’ve watched that, situations where people were prospects or situations where people were the guy, and they gave up this piece,” Victorino said.
“I can talk about the Cliff Lee trade. I can talk about the Roy Halladay trade. I can talk about the Brad Lidge trade. I can talk about the Hunter Pence trade.
“Being in Philly and seeing all these trades happen, situations where all those guys that were shipped away, I can name you maybe two or three of them out of the dozen, 15 guys that were considered untouchable prospects with the Phillies, guys we didn’t want to give up, turn out to be individuals that didn’t prosper into the players we got. And the guys we got in return were great players.”