Gordon Edes has written a profile piece on Shane Victorino as the catalyst to the Sox hot start (on pace for 162-0, baby!) that features some interesting quotes from the Flyin' Hawaiian. While so many baseball analysts and fans expect players to have great success during contract years, it sounds like Shane is the exception. Here's what he had to say about the mental side of being up for a contract:
"A perfect example is last year. I worried about free agency. I worried about not getting off [to a good start], I worried about not getting a contract done early in the season. You let all those things accumulate, the next thing you know I'm hitting .255 at the end of the year.
"That's the kind of stuff you have to handle. I can't control what happens off the field and let that get to me. And they won't come face-to-face with me and tell me that, either."
He goes on to talk about how he can't worry about what people think about his current contract (general consensus: overpaid). Of course, this could all be convenient excuse-making -- athletes generally don't want to admit their ability is slipping, and Victorino's might be. (And will certainly be by year three, but that's an issue for another day.)
It sounds to me like Victorino is one of those guys for whom security is important, and the unknown of free agency just didn't work. He's having a great time in Boston (and he's on his way to 162-0, so why not!) so far, and if his struggles were as mental as he suggests, that could portend a good 2013 for him.