Shane Victorino made Fenway Park shake during Game 6 of the 2013 World Series. That’s what he meant to the Red Sox that season.
His three-run double in the third inning was the decisive hit in the clinching game of the Series and the old ballpark started to sway a bit, so overjoyed were the fans.
But the Red Sox haven’t been very exciting since and neither has Victorino. They parted company on Monday, the Sox trading their right fielder to the Los Angeles Angels for Triple A infielder Josh Rutledge.
To facilitate the trade, the Red Sox sent the Angels $3.8 million of the $4.97 million Victorino had remaining on his contract this season.
Pulled from the lineup, Victorino stayed at Fenway Park during a 10-8 loss against the White Sox and broke down crying several times when speaking to reporters.
“People doubted me in 2012 and the Red Sox gave me a chance to win a World Series,” Victorino said.
The Red Sox like Rutledge and believe he could be a helpful player. But the mission of the trade clearly was to create playing time for 28-year-old Rusney Castillo.
After the trade was completed during batting practice, the Sox recalled Castillo from Triple A Pawtucket and started him in right field. He was 1 for 2 with a walk and two runs scored.
Castillo has played only 37 games in the majors since the Sox signed him to a seven-year, $72.5 million deal last August. He has been held back by a series of minor injuries and unrefined skills.
“I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to come back here and try to perform here,” Castillo said via a translator.
At the time he was signed, Castillo was often compared with Victorino.
“We just want to see him continue to get comfortable and acclimate at the big league level. This is a guy obviously we believe in and believe will be a good major league player,” general manager Ben Cherington said.
More trades could be coming. Cherington suggested the Red Sox want to return outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. to the majors.
Bradley, a Gold Glove finalist last season, has hit .304 with an .848 OPS at Pawtucket this year but had only 30 at-bats with the Red Sox. The former first-round pick is a .193 hitter over parts of three seasons in the majors.
“I think there is still merit, and certainly there’s consideration to try and create opportunity for him, too,” Cherington said. “Today, it’s Castillo, and we’ll see where it goes after that.”
Alejandro De Aza, Victorino’s platoon partner in right field, could be traded. First baseman Mike Napoli also is receiving interest.
“We’ve been talking a lot about all sorts of stuff,” Cherington said. “I wouldn’t say there’s anything particularly close, probably some things we could do, but not anxious to do quite yet. We’re looking at and talking about all kinds of stuff, different types of deals, big, small, and in between. There’s a lot of talk and we’ll see where it leads to.”
The non-waiver trade deadline is Friday.
Rutledge, 26, has 266 games of major league experience, all with the Rockies from 2012-14. He hit .259 with a .308 on-base percentage in those games as a middle infielder.
A former third-round draft pick, Rutledge was traded to the Angels in December. He had a chance to win the second base job in spring training but played poorly.
Rutledge was hitting .274 with a .727 OPS for Triple A Salt Lake City at the time of the trade. Cherington said he would join the Sox in the next day or two.
With Dustin Pedroia on the disabled list, the Red Sox need infield help. Rutledge’s presence could allow the Red Sox to consider trading All-Star utility man Brock Holt at what may be the peak of his value.
“Josh is a guy we’ve had some interest in back to his Colorado days,” Cherington said. “He’s a guy we could envision as part of the team going forward.”
Cherington and manager John Farrell met with Victorino to tell him about the trade.
“It was tough for everyone,” Cherington said. “He’s meant a lot, stating the obvious.”
Said Farrell: “I’ll miss him personally. He’s got a chance to go to a contender.”
Victorino was a key member of the 2013 team, hitting .294 with 15 home runs, 61 RBIs, and 21 stolen bases. He won a Gold Glove in right field and drove in 12 runs in 14 postseason games. Victorino’s 6.1 WAR was second only to Pedroia’s 6.3.
“What am I going to be remembered as in a city like this?” Victorino said. “It’s memories that will last a lifetime.”
Said Cherington: “My opinion is that we wouldn’t have won the World Series without him.”
Injuries reduced Victorino to a part-time player the last two years. Since the start of the 2014 season, he has played in only 63 games and hit .258 with little power or speed.
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, Victorino was part of a team that helped the city recover. He started crying when discussing the emotions of the time and his teammates.
Victorino’s at-bat song, “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley, became the soundtrack of a championship as fans sang along the words, “Every little thing’s gonna be all right.”
Victorino said he would never use that particular song again out of respect for Red Sox fans.
“It’s something I’ll never forget,” he said, wiping his eyes. “Aw, this sucks. It’s one of those things you bite down and you try and move on.”
Victorino joins a first-place Angels’ team that needed a righthanded-hitting right fielder. He also brings 60 games of postseason experience and two World Series rings with him.
“Once you get an opportunity to get someone like Victorino, you move on it,” Angels GM Bill Stoneman told reporters.
Cherington had no regrets about the three-year, $39 million deal Victorino received as a free agent.
“He leaves a mark on the Red Sox and on a lot of people who are still in that clubhouse . . . He played with incredible grit, a tough, smart player, and we wish him well,” the GM said.