LAS VEGAS — The New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies may be archrivals in the National League, but that didn’t stop Shane Victorino from embracing the nickname bestowed upon him by a Mets broadcaster.
“The announcer called me ‘The Flyin’ Hawaiian’ during a game after a play I made in the outfield,” he said, “and I really like it.”
The award-winning Hawaiian high school track star, who was named the fastest base runner in the Dodgers’ organization in 1999, spent his last day of the off-season at the Project show in Las Vegas last week. Victorino appeared at the Robert Graham booth to help promote the brand’s new line of Major League Baseball woven sport shirts.
“I leave tomorrow night,” he said, “but I’m ready to get back to work. I’m itching to go.”
The Gold Glove center fielder, who lives in Vegas in the off-season, said he also loves fashion. “It’s ever evolving. You wear something, and two weeks later there’s a different design,” he said.
The MLB shirts, which will be sold at upscale department and specialty stores and stadiums around the country, are lively and “flamboyant,” Victorino said. “You’ve got to have confidence to wear them.”
And although he is a fan of the MLB shirts, Victorino said that off the field, he’s really a “[casual] guy. I’m a total jeans and T-shirt guy. I grew up in Hawaii and wore flip-flops, board shorts and a T-shirt — and not even a T-shirt most of the time because it’s so hot.”
Hopefully it’ll be hot in Clearwater, Fla., the Phillies’ spring training home, where Victorino will be getting ready for the season.
“We’ve got a good team,” he said. “Our pitching staff is arguably the best in the league, and the offense is there. We’ve just got to hit. So on paper, we’re the favorites. But we’ve still got to play.”
Victorino knows that no matter which team seems strongest, anything can happen over the 162-game season. “Any team can come through. The Cardinals and Braves are going to be good. The Marlins are better, and the Giants are the defending champs,” he said. “So you just have to take it one day at a time.”