What’s Up, Vic?
He is almost always one of the first arrivals, quickly changing into his workout gear, ready to go, chirping at whomever walks in his direction. He’s all energy all the time, ready for a laugh or a wise crack. But not yesterday. Victorino seemed oddly quiet upon his arrival, after the clubhouse had already opened to media. (I could probably count on one hand the times I’ve been in the clubhouse before him.) He changed out of his t-shirt, but otherwise remained in street clothes as he slowly walked through the clubhouse, eventually packing his red Phillies travel bag for the team’s trip to Colorado and Los Angeles after the All-Star break. (He was the only one in the clubhouse doing so.)
Maybe an hour later, Charlie Manuel posted his lineup. Victorino was hitting seventh.
Maybe an hour after that, Manuel replaced Victorino in the lineup with Jason Pridie.
Some speculated Victorino got upset with his spot in the lineup and stormed out of the clubhouse. He very well might have been, but Manuel denied this.
“That’s the first thing I asked him,” Manuel said. “He said absolutely not.”
Instead, Manuel said Victorino simply was not in the right frame of mind to play.
“When I talked to him, he was kind of hurting today and he was down,” Manuel said. “He was down because of his performance. I decided to go with Pridie. I just scratched him and gave him a day off. … I saw [Victorino] in the clubhouse, sitting beside his locker. I walked up and started talking to him. He was down, talking about his hitting, especially from the left side, things like that. He was down. He’s got a lot on his mind, I guess.”
Victorino is hitting .245 with 13 doubles, two triples, eight homers and 37 RBIs in 86 games this season. He is hitting 31 points below his career batting average, 30 points below his career on-base percentage and 63 points below his career slugging percentage. Not only is Victorino underperforming this season, he is eligible to become a free agent after the season and he could be traded before the end of the month. He is seeking a five-year contract from the Phillies, but there seems to be no chance they go anywhere near that long.
Victorino is an emotional guy. I have no doubt this season is weighing on him, both because of the losing and the long-term and short-term uncertainties about his future. He wants to stay in Philadelphia, but I think he sees his time in Philly might be coming to an end. Now, that’s no excuse for not coming to the ballpark ready to play. He’s getting paid $9.5 million this season (or more than $58,000 a game) to play. But while I understand it’s hard for some people to accept, there is a very big human element in this game. Players get distracted, they get depressed, they struggle with confidence, etc. Victorino has to hope the four-day All-Star break clears his head, he gets on a roll along with the rest of the team and the front office becomes buyers before the trade deadline because right now that’s all he’s got.