Posted on: January 13, 2012 4:11 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 10:50 am
Respected longtime Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek has been invited by the team to come to camp as a non-roster player with only an outside chance to make the team, and Varitek seems likely to decide between accepting that invitation or retiring, people familiar with his situation said. Mostly out of respect for the iconic Varitek, they let him know the door is open, and they are giving him time to decide. Varitek, 39, who's played his entire big-league career in Boston starting with one at-bat in 1997 and helped them win two World Series, does not appear to be considering looking for a job elsewhere.
The Red Sox fairly have made clear to him that if he did come to camp, he'd serve mostly as "protection'' in the event one of their two catchers, Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Kelly Shoppach, is hurt. Ryan Lavarnway is seen as Boston's catcher of the future but is expected to start the year in Triple-A Pawtucket.
This is probably a tough call for Varitek, a great Red Sox who didn't have a bad year last year when he hit .221 with 11 home runs and 36 RBIs. Interestingly, the team was 42-22 in games started by Varitek, and 48-50 in games started by their other catchers, predominantly Saltalamacchia. The staff ERA was 3.57 with Varitek, and 4.62 with Saltlamacchia. But Varitek's throwing isn't what it was, and the Red Sox chose to sign Shoppach.
The respect for Varitek is such that Red Sox people would love him to work for the team in a non-playing capacity once his career is over. He just isn't sure it is just yet.
Posted on: January 2, 2012 7:06 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 8:57 pm
Jason Varitek was presumed to be an ex-Red Sox when the team signed catcher Kelly Shoppach a few weeks ago. But club decisionmakers are still considering yet another return to Boston for Varitek, sources familiar with their thinking said.
It's possible Boston people are just being polite to a longtime Red Sox loyalist. But it seems like more than that.
Boston certainly has plenty of catching options already, what with a revamped Jarrod Saltalamacchia, young up and comer Ryan Lavarnway and Shoppach already in the fold. And there wouldn't appear to be much room for Varitek. But Red Sox people value his presence and have taken note of the team's vast successes, even last year, with Varitek behind the plate and are still weighing a return for him for that reason.
Varitek has eschewed more lucrative options elsewhere in recent year. So you have to think if the Red Sox can make it work, he'll jump at the chance to come back. Varitek, 39, didn't have his worst season offensively last year, hitting 11 home runs with 36 RBIs and a .221 batting average. And while his arm isn't nearly what it was, the Red Sox do seem to continue to value him as a possible presence.