Hitting for the captain
Before jumping to the conclusion that Wednesday night’s move will signify the start of a trend in which manager Terry Francona will start hitting for Jason Varitek, consider the situation.
Varitek had been 0-for-15 lifetime (including postseason) against Grant Balfour.
“I told him last night, the only situation I was going to hit for [him] was Balfour. That’s a pretty obvious one for me,” Francona said. “I told him, just give me a look if Balfour is in. If anything else, you’re hitting. The at-bat before, he actually came close to hitting a homer.”
Francona started hitting for Varitek at times during the playoffs last year, but never in the regular season. As he said at the time, “I don’t think it’s necessarily the best thing for our team to have the captain looking over his shoulder.”
With three Major League catchers on the roster and usually a potent bat or two waiting on the bench, Francona says there might be times where it makes sense to hit for Varitek.
“It’s a little different when you have more bodies,” said Francona. “Again, I think you have to be somewhat realistic when the season takes a toll on him. That’s not a shot [at Varitek]. That’s being realistic. He bears the brunt of a lot of physical [things]- he just gets beat up. But I also don’t want to run to start hitting for him because I don’t know if that always helps us maybe as much as other people do.”