For just the second time this season, Shane Victorino
is not in the starting lineup.
Charlie Manuel decided to give his long-time center fielder a mental break Friday, less than 24 hours removed from a loss that had Victorino bristling to reporters afterward.
"You guys always want to bring up the negative stuff - I'm over it," Victorino said as he walked away from a media herd Thursday night.
Victorino cooled down Friday afternoon. He's honestly one of the most accountable players in the clubhouse, which he should be commended for.
But he's also simply not having a great season.
Victorino, who leads all major leaguers with 71 games played this season, is hitting .252 -- 25 points below his career average. In the last month (25 games), he's hitting .215 with a .288 on-base percentage.
The obvious question: is his pending free agency an issue?
Manuel believes so. The manager did a slow eye roll when asked about the subject and then said he's actually had the discussion with Victorino recently.
Victorino, however, doesn't believe his contract status is related to his slump at the plate.
"I’m long over that," Victorino said Friday. "Maybe early on the thought process
was there. But once... I overlooked that. Now I go out there and just… in this
game, as we says, there’s enough pressure as it is. When you start adding
things to your plate, the your world will start spinning. But I haven’t even… I’m
just going out there trying to be the best player I can be and help the team
win. Worry about that, focus on that.
"That’s how I look at it. One way or another I’m going to
have a job somewhere. I would long for it to be here. But we understand it’s a
business and things happen. So, I look at it that way. I’m worried about 2012,
focused on winning here, bringing a championship here and whatever happens
after the World Series ends and free agency begins, we’ll focus about that then.
"Don’t get me wrong, when I sit here and see I’m hitting
.250, that’s not where I want to be, or where I can be or where I should be,
but I can’t sit there and mope about it. I think that’s where I’m at. I’m over
the fact of where the focus is, the ‘oh he’s not having the year he should during
free agency and he’s focused on that; I’m not. I’m not focused on that."