Shane Victorino

10 years ago today: Shane Victorino makes a statement in defeat

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10 years ago today: Shane Victorino makes a statement in defeat

Ten years ago this month, the Phillies won their second World Series title in franchise history. Over the next few weeks, Jim Salisbury will look back at the team’s run through the NLCS and World Series.

With Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Brad Lidge and others, the 2008 Phillies were clearly a talented bunch.

But they also had some toughness, some grit, some don’t-mess-with-us swagger.

Feisty, high-energy centerfielder Shane Victorino embodied those qualities throughout the 2008 postseason — remember the grand slam against CC Sabathia in the NLDS? — and they came out again in Game 3 of the NLCS against the Dodgers. Sure, the Phillies lost the game, 7-2, as the Dodgers shaved the Phils’ series lead in half, but it was the last game that the Phillies would lose in the series and Victorino would play a huge role the rest of the way — starting the very next night.

The Phillies were never in Game 3 as Jamie Moyer was tagged for six runs and did not get out of the second inning. He gave up a three-run triple to Blake DeWitt in the first inning as the crowd at Dodger Stadium became loud and electric.

The Dodgers were cruising when their starter, Hiroki Kuroda, threw a purpose pitch over Victorino’s head in the third inning. There had been bad blood brewing after Brett Myers fired a pitch up and in on Russell Martin and one behind Manny Ramirez in Game 2.

Kuroda was clearly standing up for his mates, but the fiery Victorino, a former Dodgers’ draft pick let go twice by that team, wasn’t taking it. He backed out of the box and pointed to his head then his ribs, telling Kuroda it’s OK to retaliate with a rib shot, but stay away from the noggin.

Victorino ended up grounding out but after he crossed first base he said something to Kuroda and the benches cleared. Ramirez was red-hot and had to be restrained. Worlds collided as Phillies-turned-Dodgers and Dodgers-turned-Phillies tried to get at each other. Dodgers bench coach Larry Bowa could be seen shouting at Myers. Phillies first base coach Davey Lopes, a mentor to Victorino, had heated words with Dodgers first base coach Mariano Duncan.

Eventually order was restrained and Kuroda retired the next nine batters he faced as the Phillies went away quietly.

But they did not stay quiet for long.

They came back with one of the memorable wins of the postseason the next night and Victorino was in the middle of it again.

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'A force to be reckoned with,' Vince Velasquez turns in another stellar start

'A force to be reckoned with,' Vince Velasquez turns in another stellar start

BOX SCORE

The Phillies have made tremendous progress this season. They are 61-48 and in first place in the NL East after 109 games.

They won just 66 games all of last season.

Within the team’s improvement has been the individual progress of several key players.

Vince Velasquez might be tops on that list.

Since joining the Phillies in a December 2015 trade from Houston, Velasquez has flashed dazzling potential and the occasional eye-popping start. But the right-hander’s time in a Phillies uniform has been plagued by too much inconsistency and too many nagging injuries.

Until now.

Vince Velasquez is healthy. And he's getting it. All that talent is coming together. He is rewarding the Phillies’ patience with him, quieting the doubters who said he belonged in the bullpen.

The right-hander, who turned 26 less than two months ago, pitched 6 1/3 shutout innings to lead a 5-1 win over the Miami Marlins on Friday night (see first take). He gave up just two hits, walked one and struck out seven.

Three months ago, manager Gabe Kapler said there was “a brilliant pitcher” lurking deep inside of Velasquez.

It is coming out now. Since June 25, Velasquez has allowed just five earned runs in 33 1/3 innings over his last seven outings, six of which have been starts. He has 32 strikeouts and has held opposing hitters to a .168 batting average over that span. For the season, he is 8-8 with a 3.80 ERA in 113 2/3 innings.

“I think at this point, he's proven that he is not just capable but thriving,” Kapler said. “The last month has been really impressive. He's been efficient. He has proven over the course of the last month that he is a force to be reckoned with.”

This is what everyone has been waiting for from Velasquez.

Including himself.

“I would say yes,” he said. “It seems that everything is falling into place now. I’m attacking hitters and following the game plan.”

A lot of things are falling into place for the Phillies. They have won three in a row. They are a half-game up on Atlanta in the NL East. Rhys Hoskins is sizzling at the plate. So is Maikel Franco. And the bullpen has been strong.

Velasquez’s big night included a double. He came around to score the Phillies’ first run on a double by Hoskins, who has 15 RBIs in his last 13 games.

After Velasquez departed, Victor Arano and Seranthony Dominguez both turned in clutch relief work in a close game. The Phillies finally broke it open with three runs in the bottom of the eighth, two coming on a double by Roman Quinn, who entered the game in the eighth inning as a defensive replacement for Hoskins in left field.

Quinn, with his speed, quick bat and strong arm, came up from Triple A last week and has already made the Phillies’ bench better. Kapler will continue to use him to help protect late leads.

“We could see some of that,” Kapler said. “I spoke to Rhys about it. Rhys is always a pro’s pro and completely understands how good Roman is out there and on the bases. When we can get Roman Quinn in the outfield, we’re going to try to do it. He’s got game-changing athleticism, game-changing speed.”

The Phillies won the game in front of a crowd of 33,737. There was some of that old electricity in the air as 2008 World Series hero Shane Victorino was honored before the game (see story). The Phillies have won three in a row and are giving fans plenty of reason to come to games.

“The whole excitement and hype going around the stadium generates the momentum that we strive to have,” Velasquez said. “It drove me to come out on top today and pitch a little better. My whole mentality was to attack hitters. But the fact that we saw fans get on their feet the way they do is a solid inspiration of what we’ll be having the next couple weeks, few months. It’s something I can’t wait for it to happen.”

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Shane Victorino retires as a Phillie, salutes the city where his dreams came true

Shane Victorino retires as a Phillie, salutes the city where his dreams came true

The Flyin’ Hawaiian turned into the Cryin’ Hawaiian.

Shane Victorino led off the Phillies’ Alumni Weekend celebration by returning to Citizens Bank Park on Friday night to officially announce his retirement from baseball.

Victorino addressed the festive crowd before the game. He lasted about 90 seconds before the tears started flowing.

“I will always have you woven into the fabric of my life," he told the crowd. "This is not a goodbye. It’s just the next chapter.

“Mahalo, Philly.”

Victorino played for the Dodgers, Red Sox and Angels after leaving the Phillies in the summer of 2012, but Philadelphia always held a special spot in his heart because it is where his dreams came true. And though he last played in 2015, he wanted to return to Philadelphia and symbolically retire with the club that he won a World Series with in 2008.

“This city made me the person that I am,” he said. “I was a 25-year-old kid bouncing all over the place just looking for an opportunity and I got to come to a first-class organization with first-class people.”

The story is well known. General manager Ed Wade and his staff plucked the spunky, athletic outfielder from Maui out of the Dodgers organization as a Rule 5 pick in December 2004. Victorino did not make the Phillies roster in the spring of 2005 and the Phillies had to offer him back to the Dodgers.

They said thanks, but no thanks.

So the Phillies kept Victorino and sent him to Triple A. He became the International League MVP and a year later a mainstay in the Phillies lineup.

Victorino became a fan favorite for his bubbly personality, his energetic style of play and his ability to produce clutch hits and important defensive plays in the field. He became an All-Star and eventually a huge part of the team that broke a 25-year championship drought in the city with the 2008 World Series championship.

“In 2005, I came to Philadelphia as a Rule 5 player,” Victorino told the crowd. “The city and me shared a DNA — an expectation for mediocrity. Well, this is far from what happened. Hard work, dedication and teamwork were the formula for success. Philadelphia, I can proudly look you all in the eye and say this: We succeeded.

“A World Series championship! We have rallied and today Philadelphia is respected — a booming city of winners.”

Phillies managing partner John Middleton and chairman David Montgomery presented Victorino with a hand-painted outfielder’s glove depicting his image and career accomplishments.

After thanking the organization, his teammates and the fans, Victorino hugged the Phanatic and headed to the mound to throw out a ceremonial first pitch. As Victorino arrived at the mound, the crowd erupted as Ryan Howard appeared on the field wearing his No. 6 jersey. Howard stood behind home plate and caught Victorino’s ceremonial pitch.

During the game, highlights from Victorino’s career — including his memorable grand slam against Milwaukee's CC Sabathia during the 2008 postseason — played on the big video board.

The Alumni Weekend festivities continue on Saturday night as Pat Gillick and Roy Halladay will be inducted onto the team’s Wall of Fame.

On Sunday afternoon, the club will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 2008 World Series title team with a pregame ceremony. At last count, 25 members of that team, including Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Charlie Manuel and Brad Lidge, were slated to attend the event.

It was kind of fitting that the weekend began with a tribute to Victorino. He got his fair share of time as the leadoff man on those great Phillies teams from 2007 to 2011.

“I’ve been lucky,” he said. “For the rest of my life, I'll forever be part of this organization.”

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