SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – If Shane Victorino stayed healthy this spring, he probably would have been a lock to make the Opening Day roster, adding another dimension to a Cubs team that could use his Gold Glove defense and World Series experience.
But Victorino has only had 10 Cactus League at-bats while dealing with a right calf injury and knows the score at this point.
Victorino is said to be weighing an offer to keep rehabbing at the team’s complex in Mesa when the Cubs leave Arizona and eventually move to Triple-A Iowa for a month on a minor-league deal.
“He’s not going to be able to start the season with us,” manager Joe Maddon said before Thursday’s game against the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium. “We’re working on alternative plans right now.”
Victorino finalized a minor-league contract with the Cubs on Feb. 26 that would have guaranteed him $1 million, plus $1 million available in roster bonuses. Injuries limited the veteran outfielder to 71 games with the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels last season.
At the age of 35, Victorino has earned four Gold Gloves, made two All-Star teams and won World Series rings with the 2013 Red Sox and 2008 Philadelphia Phillies. His career earnings already exceed $65 million, according to the salary database at Baseball-Reference.com.
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The Cubs are still debating whether or not to add an eighth reliever to a bullpen group that includes Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, Trevor Cahill, Travis Wood, Clayton Richard and Adam Warren. Right-hander Neil Ramirez is out of minor-league options.
If Victorino is no longer in that conversation, the final bench job(s) could come down to Tommy La Stella (calf) and Matt Szczur (oblique), who have also been slowed by injuries and unable to make a strong impression.