Varitek handling reduced role; Clinch party?
The Red Sox had a lineup on Friday night that had Jason Varitek behind the plate and Mike Lowell — despite four homers and 14 RBIs lifetime against Joba Chamberlain — on the bench.
“I really wish it was a little bit different,” Francona said. “He’s swung the bat so well off of Joba. It just doesn’t seem to make much sense to do that. We’ve got a couple of lefties the next two days. Again, and I know the numbers, it’s tremendous. I’m just trying to do something to not hurt him physically.”
Most often of late, Varitek has been the one to feel the lineup squeeze that has existed since Victor Martinez was acquired on July 31. Over that span, the Red Sox had played 50 games entering Friday, with each guy catching 25. Of course, Martinez has started at first base in nearly every instance when he wasn’t caching, while Varitek has ben relegated to the bench.
How has Varitek handled that?
“There was a reason they put that ‘C’ on his chest,” Francona said. “Even through maybe disappointment, or like you referred to it, a little bit of a reduced role, he still exhibits a lot of leadership. He’s helped Victor and he will continue to be very valuable to what we’re doing.”
Francona said that Varitek will catch two of the three games this weekend, but didn’t say if Martinez will catch Daisuke Matsuzaka on Saturday.
“It’s a possibility,” Francona said. “We don’t quite know yet what we’re going to do tomorrow or the next day. I don’t know if we want Tek to catch all three. We’ll see.”
In another matter, the Red Sox, as David Ortiz indicated Thursday in Kansas City, will have no reservations about spraying champagne at Yankee Stadium if they clinch the Wild Card this weekend.
Ortiz joked in KC that it would be nice not to have to get the home clubhouse at Fenway dirty.
Manager Terry Francona also indicated his team should relish the moment when they officially become one of the eight teams what will move on.
“Of course. Oh yeah. I’ve actually been asked a couple of times, hey, if this happens, are you guys going to celebrate?’ I could never quite understand that. Because we were fortunate enough to win six years ago and then a couple of years ago, why in the world would we not be happy if we’re fortunate enough to go back to the playoffs?” Francona said.
“I never did quite understand that. What we don’t need to do is choreograph anything. That’s the part I think we need to stay away from. A couple of years ago, when Pap danced out on the field after that crazy night when we were at home and Mora bunted [against the Yankees], [there was] all the craziness there that could probably only happen in New York or Boston. … What I’d like for us to do is play good and if they’re comes a moment when we’re able to celebrate, just do whatever you feel like doing.”