Shane Victorino arrived at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday, and he will make his Dodgers debut in Wednesday's series finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Victorino, who was drafted by the Dodgers in 1999, is happy to be back.
"I look at a new opportunity to be here, with the organization that gave me a chance to become a professional baseball player," Victorino said. "They always say full circle, things come back."
Victorino will wear number eight, which used to belong to manager Don Mattingly. But Mattingly will switch to 12, and he's happy to do it.
"If he wants it, he should have it," Mattingly said.
Victorino shared three funny anecdotes, including some foreshadowing from Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis. In the final game of the Phillies' three-game series at Dodger Stadium, on July 18, Victorino came to bat in the 12th inning, his final at-bat of the series. Victorino, as has been customary, was booed by the crowd.
"In my last at-bat, the umpire jokingly said, 'They love you here,' and A.J. said, 'Don't worry, they'll be giving him a standing ovation when he's in Dodger blue'," Victorino recalled. "I kind of laughed in that at-bat, but lo and behold, look at where I am."
Victorino was lost in two Rule 5 drafts by the Dodgers, in 2002 to the Padres and in 2004 to the Phillies. San Diego sent him back in 2003, and Philadelphia tried to as well in 2005, but then general manager Paul DePodesta did not want him back. After getting traded back to the Dodgers, Victorino spoke with current general manager Ned Colletti.
"Ned jokingly said to me, 'I wasn't here when you were a Rule 5 kid, so don't take it out on me'." Victorino said.
The joke fest continued when Mattingly called Victorino and told him he would play left field, keeping Matt Kemp in center.
"We kind of joked about it. Mattingly said Kemp's here for eight years, you might be a two-month rental," Victorino said, smiling.
To make room for Victorino, the Dodgers designated Bobby Abreu for assignment. Abreu, who was released by the Angels on April 27, signed with the Dodgers on May 4 and hit .251/.359/.341 in 70 games. But the 38-year old hit just .165/.258/.215 in his last 32 games, dating back to June 19.
"It was a tough one today. Bobby came at a time when we had some guys hurt and did a great job for us," Mattingly said. "He's another guy in the clubhouse who's been good. He's good with young players and talking to them about hitting. He's an intelligent guy that understands the game."
Mattingly said with Victorino in left field there simply wouldn't be enough playing time for Abreu.
"Shane changes the dynamic of the outfield. There's really no double switching, there's no platooning. The only place the at-bats really come are from pinch hitting," Mattingly said.
With three durable outfielders now, Tony Gwynn Jr. will see his role change as well. Gwynn leads the Dodgers with 99 games played this season, including 33 games as a defensive replacement. His playing time will dwindle as well.
"He was part of our discussions the last few days," Mattingly said of Gwynn. "I haven't had a chance to talk to Tony yet. We really didn't know what we were going to do."
The Dodgers now have 39 players on their 40-man roster, excluding the six players currently on the 60-day disabled list.
Mark Ellis gets the day off in the series finale. Jerry Hairston Jr. subs in at second base, batting sixth.
Game Time: 12:10 p.m.
TV: Prime Ticket