Shane Victorino has been lauded for making hay from the batter’s box ever since he started hitting exclusively right-handed. But that righty stance — or just the way Victorino stands in the box — has some people thinking that’s also why Victorino has been hit by pitches five times this postseason and an American League-leading 18 times this year (11 of which came in the 38 games after he started batting only right-handed).
Skeptics include Tigers hurler Justin Verlander, who is pitching Game 3 for Detroit on Tuesday afternoon. He had a message for the American League Championship Series umpires ahead of his outing.
“I’ve seen pitches that [Victorino] got hit on that were strikes,” Verlander told reporters Monday. “So, I mean, I don’t think you can worry about that. I think just whoever is the home plate umpire needs to be aware he’s up there.”
Verlander said Victorino stands “right on top of the plate” with his arms leaning out of the batter’s box and into the zone.
“Anything on the inner half, occasionally he’s looking to get hit,” Verlander said. “If he doesn’t get out of the way, there could be an occasion that it could be a strike and it actually hits him. That’s something that I think that those guys [umpires] are aware of.”
Verlander said he can’t let himself get distracted by the possibility of plunking Victorino.
“You can’t think about not hitting a guy,” he said. “You’ve got to think about executing your pitches and not changing anything because of that. And hopefully, if something like that happens, those guys are on top of it.”
Victorino wasn’t amused by Verlander’s comments and responded with a challenge.
"It’s not like the umpires don’t know that I’m close to the plate. But you know, I’m not going to alter my approach and nor do I expect a pitcher to change theirs. Other than the fact, the only part that disappoints me in that quote, he thinks I’m getting hit by strikes. To me that’s — that to me is what disappoints me more than anything.
"If he can prove to me and show me which one he thought was a strike that was a legitimate strike that I got hit on, then — but as I said, I’m not mad. Hey, it is what it is. It’s your opinion. For me, I understand you’re executing your pitches, I’m going to try to execute what I’m trying to do at the plate. Trust me, I don’t want to jump in front of a 95-mph fastball. That’s not what I’m trying to do."
Victorino is 6 for 21 in the playoffs so far, with eight strikeouts and no walks. He was hit by Detroit starter Max Scherzer in Game 2, but that pitch was not over the plate.