FORT MYERS, Fla. — Tranquility Base at JetBlue Park finally felt a few ground tremors Thursday morning. Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino objected to a Boston sports talk radio interpretation that he was throwing teammates under the bus and trying to make space for himself in the outfield.
The whole thing started when a reporter from the Philadelphia Daily News spoke with Victorino and quoted him about the Sox perhaps trading prospects to acquire Phillies ace lefty Cole Hamels.
Here’s what Victorino said to the newspaper: “I’d love to see [Hamels] anytime . . . Any time you can get a No. 1, as I told these guys — not the front office, but the players — any time you can go get a guy in my opinion who is established, who has done it [you do it].
“And I understand you don’t want to give up this prospect or that prospect. You’re hoping this guy becomes a Cole Hamels. Hoping. Oh, wait. That guy is there now. And even as a hitter. Why would you hope that guy becomes this hitter, when you have it right now?’’
Back in Boston, 98.5 The Sports Hub afternoon hosts Mike Felger and Tony Massarotti suggested that Victorino was advocating that the Sox trade star rookie Mookie Betts in order to clear space for himself in the Sox outfield.
When Victorino was asked about this in the clubhouse before Thursday’s home game with the Minnesota Twins, the oft-injured outfielder was more than willing to advance his version of the truth.
“I don’t know who these two clowns are,’’ said Victorino. “I never mentioned anybody’s name . . . Guys are quick to the assumption that . . . I was trying to call out my teammates or try to get him shipped away . . . 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.
“I don’t know where this came about, but it became this big story for no reason.
“Let me set the story straight. Let me explain myself. That’s the last thing I wanted. It was an assumption made by individuals that read an article and made it seem that that’s what I wanted. No. It’s not what I wanted.
“I just want us to be the best team. If it warrants me playing here, if it warrants me playing somewhere else, I’m all for it. I’m wearing a Red Sox uniform and that’s all I’m focused on, being the best Red Sox player I can be.’’
While Victorino spoke, David Ortiz dressed at an adjacent locker and could be heard grumbling about the situation.
Victorino went out of his way to praise Betts, who is hitting .472 with 10 extra-base hits this spring. He compared Betts to a young Andrew McCutchen and spoke glowingly about Betts’s willingness to learn and desire to improve.
The episode was a rare brush fire in what has become an annual “everything is awesome’’ Red Sox spring training. In the days of Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, and later Manny Ramirez, episodes of this nature were the norm at Sox camp. Not anymore. Rarely is heard any discouraging word.
But the Sox’ glut of big league-ready outfielders in the spring of 2015 was bound to bubble over at some point, and it appears we have finally reached that point. The Sox have too many outfielders and not enough jobs, and Victorino’s .182 spring average and recovery from back surgery make him something less than a lock. In the final year of a three-year, $39 million contract, he has abandoned switch-hitting, but still had trouble staying on the field this spring.
Sox manager John Farrell said again Thursday that there is no plan to have Victorino start the season on the disabled list, but the manager allowed that the club would have better medical information on all players by the end of this weekend.
Meanwhile, Victorino, a sometimes moody individual who has been consistently upbeat this spring, won’t cop to any controversy.
“If at the end of the day, if Mookie gets better, [Rusney] Castillo gets better, I get better, Hanley [Ramirez] gets better, that’s the picture I worry about,” he said. “I don’t care what’s what and who’s going to be where.
“People are going to put people in certain roles and try and say this and that. I’ve been around players that made a lot of money that didn’t get an opportunity to play. Played two years of their contract and the third and fourth year, they weren’t playing or they were sent home and still making the money.
“It’s not about that. It’s about going out there and being the best player I can be.”
Things got a little more complicated Thursday when Castillo hit a 10th-inning, walkoff homer to send the Sox to a 5-4 victory over the Twins.
“It’s about me proving I can be healthy, that I can play every day,” said Victorino. “That’s what I’m focused on. I’m not focused on the competition or what people are saying.
“I paid attention to this one because it was a situation that got taken out of proportion and made it like I’m trying to call my teammates out or trying to get a guy shipped out. Come on. That’s the last thing I’m trying to do.
“If anything, I’m trying to be there for my teammates and help them be better.
“I don’t even know who these guys are, Mazz and whatever the other guy is. I’ll never get to talk to them face to face. Why? Because they won’t show up, and that’s the part for me where I hold a little more grudge to that situation because, hey, hold yourself accountable. Show your face so I can at least discuss it with you.’’
Reached Thursday just before noon, Felger was aware of Victorino’s remarks and said, “No problem with it. He has every right to defend himself and he doesn’t need to be in front of me to say it. I don’t need for him to come into studio, but he’s always welcome. I’ll have more to say about it at 2 p.m.’’Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @dan_shaughnessy.