Red Sox’s Victorino Cites Yankee Rivalry as Influence on Signing

Dec. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Outfielder Shane Victorino said he signed with the Boston Red Sox because of the team’s tradition and rivalry with the New York Yankees.

Victorino agreed last week on the free-agent contract that ESPN said is worth $39 million. Terms weren’t disclosed in a news release today officially announcing the deal.

“If you look around the game of baseball, there’s one rivalry that you speak of, the Yankees and Red Sox,” Victorino said at a televised news conference from Fenway Park.

He dismissed concerns about the Red Sox’s performance this past season, when they finished last in the American League East at 69-93, their worst record since 1965.

“There was no convincing,” he said. “It’s Boston.”

Victorino has a .344 career batting average against the Yankees in 36 plate appearances.

A two-time All-Star who has won three Gold Gloves for his play in the outfield, Victorino played his first 7 1/2 seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in July.

A career .275 batter, the 32-year-old Victorino hit .255 last season, including a .245 average in 53 games with the Dodgers as free-agency loomed.

“I was worried about where I was going to be instead of playing the game,” he said today.

Victorino, who said he’d be happy playing right field or center field for the Red Sox, has 90 career home runs, 409 runs batted in, 65 triples and 201 stolen bases, including 39 last season. He helped the Phillies win the World Series in 2008.

“I hope it’s not worse than Philly,” he said when discussing the scrutiny that will come with playing in Boston. “I hope you guys aren’t that much tougher because that was a pretty tough market.”

The Red Sox fired manager Bobby Valentine after one year with the club and replaced him with John Farrell, their former pitching coach.

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