Results tagged ‘ Jason Varitek ’
Dave Dombrowski spoke to the media for roughly 15 minutes today to talk about Pablo Sandoval and Blake Swihart/Christian Vazquez. Here is a sampling.
The latest on Sandoval:
“So, he had an MRI yesterday. There’s a great deal going on in his left shoulder from a medical perspective. He is going to get a second opinion on Monday, from Dr. Andrews. Monday morning. Then we will have a disclosure at that point on what actually is involved with his shoulder. Until we get the second opinion, we’re going to wait to make any kind of statements on that because we want to make sure whatever is diagnosed is the proper one. We talked to his agent about that this morning, Rick Thurman. He felt comfortable with that situation, as does Pablo. And so that’s what our plans are.”
Could the injury require surgery?
“I’m not going to speculate on anything but I won’t rule anything out either.”
Is it an ominous sign that Sandoval is seeing Andrews?
“Well, Dr. Andrews, if he’s not the best, he’s one of the best. We’ve sent many people to them. But I think when you’re dealing with a situation that’s with any player really, but a player that you want to make sure what exactly is in there that he’s one of the best and so you send it to him. I’ve had plenty of guys go there and come back with the same exact diagnosis and everything be smooth. And other guys, sometimes they see a little bit different. Dr. Andrews, I have the utmost respect for him, as does our medical team as does Pablo and his agent.”
The playing time issue is officially on the backburner.
“Well, right now, we’re in a situation where we need to get him healthy. And when people ask what his situation is, really, speculation doesn’t serve me any good. It’s just really a situation, the first thing with him is to tackle the medical aspect of it. And I would do that with any player.”
What about a report from Yahoo that Sandoval only wants to stay in Boston if he’s playing every day?
“It’s never been termed that way to me. I know he wants to play every day. But he also understands the situation.”
Then, the conversation switched to Swihart.
How hard was it to send him down?
“Yeah, lot of conversations on that situation. Very difficult decision because of how much we like Blake and how good a player we think he is. We emphasized that to him when we talked. We’ve thought about, should we carry three catchers or not? A lot of people were involved in the decision, really the whole staff. I had a long conversation with Jason Varitek. I ran into him the other day, it just so happened, in the morning at Dunkin Donuts, having a cup of coffee, and we talked for over an hour on the situation. Then we met that afternoon. And really our feelings at this time are two-fold.
“One is, what it comes down to, we think he has a chance to be a good catcher, an all-star type of catcher. It won’t hurt him to go down and continue to develop those skills. With Christian coming on board, we don’t think that the catching time here will be enough to continue for him to grow in that regard. We do want him to continue to catch. The second part of it is as we look towards the future and even as time goes on, we would like Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart to both be part of our club. And they’re both not going to be everyday catchers with our team.
“Blake’s more athletic. He’s a converted catcher. We think he can make a conversion to another position. Even on a part-time basis, so we can keep his bat in the lineup. So he’s also going to learn, when we send him out, we’re going to start hitting him flyballs in left field. We think that’s more fair to do that down in Triple-A then just put him in at the big league level and say, here you go, so he’s also going to start working on that. so the combination between catching, we’re not going to put him right in left field to play. We’re going to start hitting him some flyballs. We think he’ll be able to make the conversion while continuing to catch and DH. He’ll be in the lineup every day and we think that’s more beneficial for him at this stage of his career than it would be playing on a periodic basis here.”
How did Swihart take the news, and the suggestion to try left field?
“He was fine. I think to probably describe him would be that he would be a little disappointed, as anybody would be if they aren’t staying here. But he handled it professionally. John Farrell’s the one who told him. I was in there with Mike Hazen and with Dana and John presented to him very well because we had emphasized to him, which we heartfully meant, how important he is for us in the future, how highly we think of him as a player and as a person. We think he will be a key contributor to the Boston Red Sox for years to come. But we thought this was the best plan at this point.
“And John can tell you better than I can because he was the one involved with it in spring training, but it was even before we started playing games in spring training. This was a topic we’ve talked about. Where this is going to go? But we couldn’t tackle it during spring training because he was a No. 1 catcher, our Opening Day catcher, and we didn’t want him thinking about something else other than that at this particular moment. But he was standing in the outfield and I don’t think we had started playing regular official workouts at that time and he asked John, ‘Christian is doing pretty well.’ ‘Yeah, he is doing pretty well.’ ‘It looks like he might be back pretty quickly.’ ‘He could be.’ We had thought at one time that Christian could be ready for Opening Day. We just took our time a little more with that.
“He said, ‘What’s the plan?’ And John said, ‘We love you. We think you’re great. We like your catching and your our guy. But you might want to think about taking some fly balls in the outfield here in left field.’ It never really came to fruition because Christian never really got close to being ready Opening Day, but Blake’s response was, ‘I’ll do anything. I just want to play for the Red Sox. I just want to be ready to go and I’m ready to help wherever I can.’ He was open-minded to that and John touched on that conversation today.
Why have Swihart keep catching and play the outfield?
“Well, it’s a great question. Basically, still he’s a foul-tip away from coming back to the big leagues as a catcher. So, he needs to keep working on that skill totally. I mean, Jason Varitek, I’m sure he would tell you, he’s told me, ‘I think he’s going to be an All-Star catcher.’ That’s what Jason Varitek tells me. He knows catching better than I do. Only time will tell that. He thinks he’s going to be that good. He also says, ‘I think Christian Vazquez is a gifted receiver, like not too many others.’ So, you’re really tackling an issue that’s kind of a difficult one, but as Ruben Amaro pointed out in our meeting, he said, ‘It’s a much better situation to be talking about having talent than not having talent.’
“I think what it does, it allows us to be in a position to just analyze how it goes at this time. He’s not doing it under the microscope here. I don’t think it would be fair to him to put him in left field here and start playing him in games. We just want to try to develop both skills. And it doesn’t mean, for example, as we talked about too in our meeting, let’s say he’s catching tomorrow. Well, that particular day, he’s not going to be taking a bunch of fly balls in left field that particular day. He’s going to be focusing on catching. Doesn’t mean at 2:30 he may not go out there and here 10 minutes of instruction at some point, but we’re going to try to do things in a wise fashion.”
The Red Sox honored Jason Varitek with a nice tribute before tonight’s game at Fenway against the Blue Jays. Without question, being away from the game is still an adjustment. But he seemed in good spirits on a night he was accompanied by his wife, four children, his parents and several friends from the various chapters of his life.
In the mid-innings, Varitek conducted an interview with the Boston press core in which he spoke about a variety of different subjects.
on the emotional ceremony: “I’m really trying to absorb what just happened. I think I spent a lot of time out there trying to absorb but I don’t think i fully can because on my mind is, you’re there, they’re doing this for you, and I in turn want to say thank you. How do you say thank you for 15 years? How do you say thank you to a fan base that has been nothing but support, and a fan base that I fit with with my style of play and what they demanded? To say thank you for that. It was bothering me for quite a while. I had a lot of anxiety and a lot of emotions going into today.”
Coming on to the field as a retired player instead of an active one: “It’s just different. Instead of preparing, you’re just in and out. It’s a sacred place. It’s a place you appreciate. Especially this field.”
Has he gotten rid of the itch to play? “I probably never will, but I’ll be all right.”
On the development of Saltalamacchia: “Everybody started to appreciate what Salty’s doing more when he had 10, 12, 13, 14 home runs. He was catching the ball, throwing the ball and doing the right things behidn the plate well before that. The offensive recognition gave him recognition for something that he was doing superbly behind the plate, but those aren’t statistics. Those aren’t things that allow people to hold onto. To see those things is such a joy, just watching him catch at the beginning of the season. The way he’s catching the ball, the way he’s moving, the way he’s doing things, it’s nice. His work and everything he’s gone through the last year and a half and before that, it looks good.”
The first pitch to Wakefield was a second-rate knuckleball: “I tried to. Should have warmed up. I used to mess around and throw it days Wake would pitch, Salty and I would finish with, like, 10-15 knuckleballs. I have the worst knuckleball in baseball. Once in a blue moon I’d throw a good one. But it would be maybe one out of a hundred. I saw the movie Knuckleball and it didn’t help me.”
Life as a fan? “I felt like a fan the other night. I had the girls all in rally caps, hats backwards and inside out going into the ninth inning, and it worked. Cody hit the three-run homer, and they’re just lit up, happy. That’s the first time I’ve been able to do stuff like that with my kids. It’s weird for them — ‘What are you doing watching a game with us? You’re supposed to be out there. Who are these guys? Why aren’t you out there?’ Yeah, I’m a fan.”
Thoughts on the struggles of Lester and Beckett? “The detail, I haven’t watched in that much detail. I know the outing before last, Josh threw pretty doggone well. His last one wasn’t too, too good, but everybody has the tendency to look at what was most recent. Josh, for the most part, you put the majority together, has done pretty well. Jonny, it hasn’t been easy for him, but sometimes when things aren’t easy, maybe the next two months could be. It looks like he’s got good stuff. It’s execution. If they’re executing 1-4, they’re going to be fine. They’ll start with No. 1 and execute that and work everything, the ability to work everything off that, they’ll be fine. If we stay in the moment of negativity, so to speak, we can all catch ourselves in that same turmoil of ‘What’s wrong?’ instead of ‘What’s right?’ and through that, continue to focus themselves on what’s right and not what’s wrong.”
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington took some time out of his busy schedule on Wednesday morning to talk with MLB.com about his first Spring Training in his new job. Here are some highlights from the interview.
After spending the winter building a team, what is Spring Training like? “Spring Training is the fun part, no doubt. It’s an opportunity to get back to what , I think, most of us got in the game in the first place, just to watch players play, watch the team play and see the collective work that’s been done when we get out on the field. You can start to see some things happening. Some good things, some not so good things. You react to the not so good things and try to react to them. Spring Training is a great time of year because it’s sort of the culmination of the offseason, which is typically a sort of frenetic pace. You get to now watch the game and that’s what we all want to do.”
What issues regarding the team keep you awake at night these days? “Well, the things that sort of stand out are the obvious ones. We need some guys to step up on our pitching staff. We’ve got a lot of guys here who are capable of doing that. We get to see them more. We’re optimistic because we believe we have guys that are capable of taking advantage of that opportunity. We have to see them do that. It’s march 7 – we haven’t seen enough of it yet. We’ve tried to build some depth in the outfield in the event that Carl wasn’t back at the beginning of the season and it looks like he may need a little more time. We’ll continue to look at that collection of outfielders and figure out works. As with every spring training, we’re going to cover every other team’s camp and see if there are guys available that might help us. I’d say that the primary focus is on trying to figure out who from that group of pitchers is going to step up and take advantage of the opportunity.”
What about shortstop? “We feel confident in what Aviles can do and the protection that Punto gives us. We think very highly of Iglesias and the player he’s going to be. He’s shown some good things already this spring and he’s making progress. I think I’ve said, there’s a competition. It doesn’t mean that competition is on equal footing. Some guys are going into the competition with an advantage but we’re not going to limit anyone. We’ll see how things evolve. Again, we’ll keep our eyes out but we feel confident that we have he answers here.”
How has life changed being the GM? “I guess I get recognized a little more but I don’t feel any differently, really. I’ve had the privilege of working here for a long time so I know … and growing up in new England, so I know how passionate Red Sox fans are and that’s why this is such a great place to work and it’s such a great place to do our jobs. I’ve gotten recognized a little bit more but it’s nothing like what I saw from Theo all those years because I think the way that Theo came into the job and the success that he had – the sort of historic achievements put him on a level that no one else will or should. For me, I’m comfortable with that aspect of the job – people recognizing me more, but it doesn’t feel that different.”
Is it any different dealing with players in your new role? “I think one of the most important things I learned from Theo is that you can have a good relationship with a player and you can still make a hard decision. He did that I think as well as anybody. I’m a different person but I do think it’s possible and I think it’s important to have a good relationship with players but also to make it clear that that there are still decisions to be made and we have to make decisions that are in the best interest of the team. Some of those decisions, players won’t agree with but along the way, we can treat each other with respect and get along. Look, we’re all trying to achieve the same goal.”
Parting ways with Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek? “That was one of the most challenging aspects of the offseason really, even though in the end, it didn’t translate into anything on the field this spring. Both those guys are guys that I have a great deal of personal respect for. Their accomplishments on the field speak for themselves and certainly the organization holds in really high regard. We made a decision that we weren’t prepared to guarantee them a job on the team and based on that, we then had a long period of conversation about what that would mean and left the door open because we wanted to give them a chance to have a say in the outcome and the final decision. But it was hard, you have guys that have left that much on the field and given that much to the organization. There were times this offseason that I had to deliver news that they didn’t want to hear. We tried to do that in as respectful a way as possible. I also know that there will always be a place for Jason and Tim in the organization and we hope that we can work with both of those guys for a long, long time.”
From the outside looking in, you seem unflappable: “I don’t think I’m unflappable. I think I probably show my emotions a little bit less than some others. When things don’t go well, it bothers me as much as anyone else. I may internalize that more than some others. I think that being a farm director for as long as I was was good preparation for this job in the sense that what you’re trying to do is create a system that works the best for as many people as possible. It’s not ever going to be perfect for everybody. Being a farm director helped me understand that the goal is to provide the best opportunity for as many people as possible and to help as many people as possible. Within that, there are going to be things that happen that you don’t like and people that are disappointed because players are human beings. I think in that sense it’s helped me a little bit.”
Tuning out public perception, particularly when it’s negative: “Some of it we don’t have a choice but to remove ourselves from it and just focus on finding solutions, finding answers. I understand, I have a great appreciation for the importance of the attention that the team gets, whether it’s positive or negative. We wouldn’t be the Boston Red Sox and this wouldn’t be such a great place to work if that attention wasn’t there. At different times, that attention can come in different forms. Last offseason we made some really big moves and felt reall good about our team and a lot of other people did too and it didn’t end the way we wanted it to. This year, our offseason was different, the way the season ened, the attention on the team was taking on a bit of a different flavor but I think if you take one step back, and sort of look at what’s actually on the field, in hindsight, there were some questions about last year’s team and there were questions about this year’s team and questions about 29 other teams in baseball. We’ve just got to do the best we can to get this team ready and look for solutions as we need them as the spring goes on, as the season goes on.”
Your first few months working with Bobby Valentine? “It’s been good. I’ve learned a lot from him. He sees the game about as well as anyone I’ve worked with. He sees the game differently then I do. We come from different backgrounds and I think that’s helped. I see some things differently that may help him sort of gain a new perspective. Hopefully the combination of different backgrounds can help us together make decisions. He’s got a ton of energy. He’s actually got – there’s a lot of things he has in common with tito. He lives and breathes and sleeps baseball. He wants nothing more than for players to perform well and for the team to win. He has a true passion for the game. He’s a baseball lifer in eveyr sense of the word. Their styles are different. There are certain things they’re going to do differently on the field and the way they go about things but ultimately there are a lot of core elements that are similar and the end goal is certainly the same. My job has been to get to know him and work with him and hopefully complement him as well as I can and develop that relationship so that when we get into the season and go through those inevitable tough times we both know we’re in a position to rely on each other and make the tough decisions if we need to.”
Biggest things you learned from Theo? “Well as I said, really, if I could point to one thing, it’s that sense of humanity that he showed in the way that he made decisions. You could make tough decisions and do it in a respectful, humanistic way. And that was the right thing to do, — it was the right thing to do sort of on moral grounds, but it was also the right thing to do on professional grounds. It helped give players the security of knowing that even when there was going to be a tough decision, when there was going to be bad news delivered, it was being done with as much respect as possible and it was being done in a way that helped the team and gave guys the best chance to win possible. If I had to point to one thing, I’d say that. There’s a lot of other things he taught me. Certainly I think he knows he knows as much about evaluating players as anyone in baseball. He’s got I think a very unique combination of feel for the objective side of player analysis and the subjective side. I don’t know too many people, if anyone, who are as good at sitting dfown and watching a game and seeing a player and evaluating them subjectively and also you can look at performance history and know exactly what he’s seeing there and being able to combine those two things. There are people that can do that. There are people that are good at one or the other . they’re may be people, but no one that I know as well that can do it like he does. So I learned a lot from him in those areas. I don’t think I match him in that respect. But I certainly learned a lot about how to balance those two things.”
Dan Duquette said the other day you always wanted to be a GM. Is that true? “I think when I first got the opportunity to work in baseball – first with the Indians and then with the Red Sox, Dan gave me an opportunity to scout, which is something I wanted to have the opportunity to do. I wanted to learn how to scout. I think I got into the game wanting to be a GM but also knowing that there’s a lot to learn and I was thrilled to have a chance to work in the game. As time went on, the goal of being the GM was still there. But really it evolved more into – what’s most important to me is not the title, it’s to be part of a group that’s doing something special and has a chance to put together and be part of a winning team, a winning organization. That’s what’s most important to me. When I was offered the job in Boston, I took it as much because I wanted to be part of something special and part of a winning organization as I did because of the tittle or because this was something I aspired to. Yeah, I had that goal in mine and I was lucky to … Dan gave me a chance to scout and learn and make some mistakes and learn from mistakes both in domestic scouting and Latin America. Then when Theo came aboard, I was given opportunities by him too. I’m very lucky to be given those opportunities and get the training and experience necessary to be able to do this job now.”
How excited are you to get to Opening Day, when you start getting measured every day by wins and losses? “It’s exciting. I think we’ll be facing Justin Verlander and it’s probably going to be about 40 degrees. I don’t know if that’s something you really look forward to. But it’s exciting because I think more than anything, I know the group of guys in the clubhouse are really ready to go be the Boston Red Sox again. Another thing that Theo taught me is that nobody should be judged by one moment. No team should be judged by one moment either. It should be judged by a longer time span, a longer period of peformance and behavior. I think the Boston Red Sox are much different than Septmeber of 2011 and I think our individual players are much different than what the perceptions of September of 2011 were. I think they are motivated to go show people that. So that’s what I’m looking forward to, more than anything else.”
Tremendous job by the Red Sox PR staff getting quotes from impactful voices near and far on the career of Jason Varitek.
Without further ado:
“Tek epitomizes what a true professional should be. He’s been a great teammate, but more importantly he’s been a better friend. The way he prepared and led the Boston Red Sox over the last 15 years has been an inspiration to all who have watched. Although his leadership will be missed, his legacy in Red Sox history will be forged forever. It has been a true honor to have played with him for this long and I wish him nothing but the best as he starts a new chapter in his life. Congratulations Tek on an unbelievable career. I’m glad we’ve been able to share a lot of great memories together.” — – Tim Wakefield, Red Sox teammate from 1997-2011
“Ever since I’ve known him, dating back to being his teammate in college, he has been a tireless worker. His preparation and endless work ethic has made him a true champion. He is a great player, great teammate, great friend and even a better man. Thanks Tek for all you have taught me.” – Nomar Garciaparra, Red Sox teammate from 1997-2004, Georgia Tech teammate from 1992-94, current ESPN analyst
“It’s tough to see Tek go. He was a class act in the clubhouse, a leader on that team. He epitomizes what a captain is all about. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to play with him, I never saw someone worked harder. We all loved him, he was a quiet leader, but when something needed to be said he said it.” – Trot Nixon, Red Sox teammate from 1998-2006.
“I want to congratulate Jason Varitek, a.k.a “Johnny Unitas fl at-top hair cut” on a remarkable career and mostly for being part of the fi rst World Series in 2004 with Sox Nation. It seems like yesterday we were in our hotel rooms on the road hitting with a pizza box going over our stances in our underwear during our struggles offensively. But above all, he’s a true professional, a true teammate and, best yet, an even better person. I wish him much success in the up and coming real world and we’ll see you soon with powder and an ear piece on TV.” – Kevin Millar, Red Sox teammate from 2003-05, current MLB Network analyst.
“In my 23 years of professional baseball I never played with or against a more selfless and prepared player than Jason Varitek. The ultimate team player, never hesitating to forgo personal success for the greater good, I’m proud to call him a friend and former teammate. I wish him God’s blessing and much happiness in wherever life takes him from here, he’s certainly earned it.” – Curt Schilling, Red Sox teammate from 2004-07, current ESPN analyst.
“Tek was a rare player. His first care was that his teammates succeeded even before himself. I have never seen a player so prepared for every game, even if he wasn’t playing. I learned a lot from him just by watching. I am glad to have been his teammate. Thanks for all you have done for the game Tek.” – Mike Timlin, Red Sox teammate from 2003-08
“He’s a true professional and was always the most prepared. He taught me how to be a leader and showed me how to be a champion. He should be a Red Sox Hall of Famer and it was a honor and a pleasure to have been his teammate and a huge fan of his since our high school days in Central Florida. I wish him all the best in the future.” – Johnny Damon, Red Sox teammate from 2002-05.
“Tek was hands down one of the best teammates I ever had. I have never come across someone who would prepare for the game more thoroughly than him. His dedication to his craft, and work ethic, were always qualities that I admired, and he was a true captain in every sense of the word. I wish him nothing but the best” – Mike Lowell, Red Sox teammate from 2006-10.
“Congrats on a Hall of Fame career. I will always cherish our championship memories together. He showed me how to be a Major League Baseball player with honesty, hard work and integrity without ever having to say one word and I am forever thankful for having him as a captain and teammate.” – Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox teammate from 2005-11, current Phillies pitcher
“Jason is the consummate professional and teammate, he never waivers on who he is. He was a selfless leader and example for the entire team. He always cared about all 25 guys in the clubhouse and should serve as a role model for all baseball players present and future.” – Bill Mueller, Red Sox teammate from 2003-05.
“Jason is a perfect example of what I think Red Sox baseball is all about: tough, gritty, passionate and most importantly, loyal. He has had an incredible run and was one of the biggest reasons why the Red Sox raised the Championship fl ags in ’04 and ’07. I can’t wait until he joins us in the Red Sox Hall of Fame, it will be a well deserved honor. He was a great teammate, a great friend, and a great professional. He should hold his head high and be proud of what he accomplished. Proud like the organization he spent 15 years with, proud like his teammates, and of course, proud like the greatest fans in all of baseball, Red Sox Nation! Congratulations Tek on a special career!” – John Valentin, Red Sox teammate from 1997-2001.
“He made himself with hard work into greatness. Fitting he led the Sox to two World Series championships. Couldn’t have happened to a better man.” – Mo Vaughn, Red Sox teammate from 1997-98.
“I have great respect for Jason’s 15-year career. I want to thank him for the great memories during my time with the Red Sox. I hope to see him pass down his wealth of knowledge to the younger generation.” – Hideo Nomo, Red Sox teammate in 2001, threw no-hitter to Varitek on 4/4/01
“He’s one of the hardest workers that I’ve ever seen at that position, as far as studying every day and taking pride in what he did. You look back and marvel at playing that position that many years and to see the stuff that he was able to see from his eyes. He should be proud of what he’s been able to accomplish.” – Derek Lowe, Red Sox teammate from 1997-2004, threw no-hitter to Varitek on 4/27/02, current Indians pitcher.
“With Tek, we always saw a guy that was really intense on the fi eld and baseball is his passion. He was always thinking about the little things. He caught me in my fi rst two full seasons and he was a guy that was an awesome resource for anybody to go to if they needed help in any aspect of the game. I’ll be forever in debt to him for that, I had a great time playing with him.” – Clay Buchholz, Red Sox teammate from 2007-11, threw no-hitter to Varitek on 9/1/07.
“It was a pleasure and an honor to be able to put this uniform on with him all these years. Congratulations Tek on a great career and congratulations on a well-deserved retirement.” – Jon Lester, Red Sox teammate from 2006-11, threw no-hitter to Varitek on 5/19/08.
”Congratulations to Jason Varitek on an outstanding career. As a former captain of the Red Sox, I can appreciate the way he approached the game. His leadership set a fi ne example for his teammates and the Red Sox organization.” — Carl Yastrzemski, Hall of Fame outfi elder, Red Sox Hall of Famer, played entire 23-year career with Boston from 1961-1983
”Jason Varitek will always have a prominent place in Red Sox history. He caught more games as a Red Sox and helped the team win their fi rst World Series in 86 years. I am happy for him and proud of his accomplishments. Congratulations Jason!” – Carlton Fisk, Hall of Fame catcher, Red Sox Hall of Famer, played with Boston from 1969-1980.
”I think he was born to be a catcher. I was with him when he was a rookie, I remember seeing his fi rst Major League hit. To me, he was an over-achiever, but had a great work ethic and leadership qualities. He was always goal oriented in achieveing the best. He is an outstanding person and outstanding teammate. Definitely the type of player to win championships with. Bottom line he’s a baseball player.” – Jimy Williams, Red Sox Manager from 1997-2001.
”Tek was the captain seven out of my eight years with the Red Sox. The “C” on his chest was just a formality, he was the leader of the team with or without it. I could say a lot of things about Tek, but the most important thing was he kept everyone going in the right direction.” – Terry Francona, Red Sox Manager from 2004-11, current ESPN analyst.
”Jason was a rock during his Red Sox career and a rare leader who delivered in the most important games. He knew how to get the most out of all pitchers by giving his own best effort everyday.” – Dan Duquette, Red Sox GM from 1994-2001, current Orioles EVP of Baseball Operations.
”Jason Varitek has been the rock of the Red Sox for nearly a decade and a half. He was always prepared for each game and every situation and guided many diverse pitching talents and personalities to success while taking no personal credit. His future Red Sox Hall of Fame plaque will highlight the record four no-hitters he caught and his critical role in two World Championships as well as the quality of his character which made him such a strong leader and captain. I am thankful for his friendship and appreciative of how he gave his body and his heart to Red Sox Nation.” – Joe Castiglione, Red Sox Radio broadcaster from 1983-present
”Jason was one of those players that made the rivalry between our two teams so special. He was the type of competitor that brought out the best in everyone who was on the fi eld with him, whether you were playing with him or against him. He should be very proud of the way he represented the Red Sox organization throughout the years. He played the game with passion and dignity, and regardless of the color of his uniform I will always have a great deal of respect for the way he went about his business, day after day, and year after year.” – Jorge Posada, Yankees catcher from 1996-2011.
”I’ve always admired the way Jason played the game, and I appreciated the opportunity I had to get to know him throughout the years. He was a big part of the reason they had so much success as a team. Jason had a career that should be celebrated and I’m happy for him.” – Derek Jeter, Yankees shortstop from 1995-present, Yankees captain since 2003.
”Jason is one of the greatest players, not only to wear a Georgia Tech uniform, but to have played college baseball. There’s not a better guy in the world. He’s one of the best guys that I’ve ever had a chance to coach. I certainly wish him well and I’ll be interested to see what he does next.” – Danny Hall, Georgia Tech Head Baseball Coach from 1994-present.
David Ortiz, on the notion that Varitek was a quiet leader: “He did say a lot. He did. He just always found the right moment to say it, you know what I’m saying? Tek was somebody that I think this organization is going to need forever, especially now that he’s going to retire. I think he’s the kind of person this organization needs to keep very close. This is a guy who does nothing but add things – good things and like I say, it was an honor for me to be his teammate. I learned a lot of good things from Tek. One of the most important things from Tek was the hard work. He based his whole life on working hard and making sure that you were Ok. His preparation was so good, it was ridiculous. He was a guy that as long as I watched him play, he wanted to do well, he wanted to do good, he wanted to be prepared for that.”
Dan Duquette, the man who brought Varitek to Boston with one of the greatest trades in team history. “We were looking for a catcher. Everybody in the business new Jason Varitek because he was drafted twice in the first round. Did we know he’d be with the Red Sox for 15 years and lead the team to two championships? No. but to his credit, he had all the skills and he deserves all the credit for the great work ethic that he developed. His tenacity as a competitor. This kid, whenever we went into Yankee Stadium, he always had a big game. He always did something to help the team win on the big stage.”
Clay Buchholz, who threw the third of the record-setting four no-hitters Varitek no-hitters Varitek caught in his career. “There were a couple times, early in the game I shook off him a couple times and had a couple missiles hit. They were caught. But after that it was just I’m going to throw what he puts down. The game started speeding up on me a couple times and I remember him calling timeout, running out there, telling me to take a couple deep breaths, throw a pitch down and away and get a ground ball and get out of the inning. That’s what I’ll always remember about him. He was always the guy that could calm you down when things started to speed up.”
Jarrod Saltalmacchia, who absorbed Varitek’s lessons last year and will take over behind the plate. “Just the way he went about his business, watching him –– it wasn’t even in the clubhouse –– I could see from across the field, how people looked at him, how people respected him. So you definitely look up to a guy like that.”
Josh Beckett, who never wanted anyone but Varitek catching him since arriving in Boston in 2006. “I loved working with him. I’ll answer that part first. I’ve never had a catcher before that who I felt like cared more about what wanting me to be successful even before he wanted to be successful. He’s going to be missed a lot in the clubhouse and on the field.”
Bobby Valentine will never get to manage Varitek, but he has a strong grasp of what he meant. “From afar, he was everything you wanted a guy who wore a ‘C’ to be. He was a man’s man. He was a big hitter when needed. He was the leader of a pitching staff. He was able to beat up Alex [Rodriguez]. All that stuff is good stuff. He was exactly what he was supposed to be.”
Derek Lowe, who was traded to Boston along with Varitek some 15 years ago, viewed his catcher as a human security blanket. “It was hard to leave [Boston],” Lowe said. “One of my biggest fears when I left to go to Los Angeles was to leave Varitek. I had not shaken him off in years. You just pitch. You throw whatever he says. And I think a lot of times it’s easier that way, because all you’re doing is reacting to what he’s putting down. You don’t have to think, really, about anything. I think that was one of the biggest things when I left. It was like, ‘Whoa, I’m going to have to start doing more of this stuff on my own.’ If you ask a lot of people, you’d be amazed at how many people, that even spent two or three months in Boston, say Varitek is the best catcher they’ve ever thrown to. A lot of those comments, clearly, he never hears. But to have that many people say this guy is the best, and we’re talking about well accomplished guys, he should be proud of the stuff he’s been able to do. “
It is a day none of us will ever forget. Here is what the Red Sox remember.
The Red Sox were in New York getting ready to face Roger Clemens the night of 9/10, but that game was rained out, enabling the team to fly to Tampa a little earlier than planned for their series that was scheduled to begin in St. Petersburg — ironically where the Sox are right now — on 9/11/01.
Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield:
“[My girlfriend and now wife Stacy] was actually in New York with me. She got out because we got rained out. She got the last flight out and beat me [to Tampa] so when we got in at 4 in the morning, she was already sleeping. She was up when all this was taking place and woke me up and said, ‘hey, you need to wake up.’ I started watching it and like 10 minutes later, we saw the second plane hit and we were like, ‘oh god, something bad is happening right now.”’
“To watch stuff on television now, the documentaries about how everything unfolded and how whoever was in charge of grounding all the airplanes made the hardest, right decision anyone could have made. Knowing it would costs the airlines millions and millions of dollars if they stopped all flights immediately, they’d have to ground the planes and all the passengers would have to switch flights. That’s when they found out about United 93. The game was meaningless [compared to what was going on] but we needed to get back playing.”
Wakefield on Ground Zero: “In 2002, I drove by. I took a cab and jus drove by. I didn’t want to get out. in ’05, we went and opened the stock market, me, trot and somebody else, we rang the bell at the American Stock Exchange. We went to somebody’s office that overlooked Ground Zero. He was part of that whole thing. He kept telling us how the building was shaking and all that stuff. The chaos.”
Jason Varitek was out for the remainder of 2001 with a fractured right elbow.
“Actually I didn’t arrive in Tampa. I was on the DL, I was in rehab. I actually arrived that morning to rehab when it all happened. It’s like, once you realize what happened, everybody dropped what they were doing and took off and left.”
“There’s a heightened awareness to everything that goes on around you for one. Appreciation for the people that tried to save lives and to do those things and you reach out to those people who have lost family, friends, etc., in the most tragic thing that’s ever happened here.”
Jacoby Ellsbury, now an All-Star and an MVP candidate, turned 18 years old on Sept. 11, 2001. He was a junior at Madras (Oregon) High School.
“I just remember going to school and waking up that morning and hearing something happened. At school, we turned on all the TV’s and saw everything unfold. At the beginning, I don’t think anyone really knew what was going on. But yeah, I just remember watching things unfold from Madras (ore.) High. I was on my way to school when I kind of heard everything. It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years.”
The 2001 season was basically the only year of Terry Francona’s youth or adult life that he wasn’t wearing a baseball uniform. Francona was a scout for the Indians in 2001, and was on assignment in Pittsburgh when the terrorist attacks happened. His best friend Brad Mills was also scouting for the Cubs at that time, and was in Pittsburgh, at the same hotel as Francona when everything happened.
“I was in Pittsburgh scouting and coincidentally Millsy was scouting for the Cubs. He was advancing. He was upstairs in the concierge room because he never pays for coffee. So he called me and he was like, ‘hey, you need to come up here, man. I went upstairs and I sat there with him. Kind of watched it and then rented a car and drove back to Philly because obviously there weren’t going to be games. I remember driving by Shanksville (Pennsylvania) on the turnpike. The exit was closed. I remember being glad I was with Millsy. Times like that, it’s nice to have maybe your best friend in the whole world with you.”
Francona is glad that soldiers can take some enjoyment out of being around baseball: “I hope it does. If you like baseball, I don’t know that it matters what you do. obviously I hope what we do, people get enjoyment out of it. I think it’s cool that they bring soldiers and people like that around and they honor them at the ballparks. I think everybody enjoys that. I think it’s a really neat thing. If they get some enjoyment out of what we’re doing, that’s terrific.”
Of course, perhaps nobody affiliated with the Red Sox had a more compelling 9/11 story than Trot Nixon, whose wife Kathryn gave birth to the couple’s first son on 9/11/01. Today, Chase Nixon turned 10 years old. Here is an in-depth story I did with Trot and Kathryn back in 2002.
It was the third game of the season, a day game after a night game, and manager Terry Francona was asked if he had thought about giving Jason Varitek his first start of the season.
Francona’s answer that day was, “We’re trying to get Salty going a little bit here.”
More than three weeks later, Saltalamacchia hasn’t been able to get into a rhythm and now Varitek is starting between two to three of every five games.
Sure, the Red Sox want Jarrod Saltalamacchia to gain some confidence. But thanks to a 2-10 start, they spend tonight at last in the position to get back to .500.
So Francona finds himself balancing the short term vs. the long term. Right now, Varitek seems to be a better short term answer. Coincidence or not, the club is 6-2 when he catches and 4-9 with Saltalamacchia.
Will Saltalamacchia be able to get his confidence back enough so that he can play more regularly?
The story is still evolving, and one of the more interesting ones to watch. Varitek also hasn’t been able to get anything going offensively, but there’s no doubt that he has done a strong job handling the pitching staff.
Tonight, the Red Sox open a four-game series in Anahiem, where J.D. Drew will lead off, Jason Varitek will catch and the scorching-hot Jed Lowrie will be in the lineup for the sixth straight day.
Varitek and Saltalamacchia will share the catching position this weekend — each guy starting twice.
Prospect Ryan Kalish injured his shoulder today for Pawtucket. At this point, it doesn’t appear to be serious.
Matt Albers is back in the bullpen, activated after a minor lat injury. Alfredo Aceves went back to Pawtucket, where he will be stretched out as a starter.
Jason Varitek isn’t prone to hyberbole. If anything, he is usually pretty guarded with praise, just like he is with criticism. So it means something when he is as impressed as he was with Josh Beckett’s performance on Sunday night against the Yankees.
Where did the performance rate in terms of pure stuff?
“Best I’ve seen him. As far as complete, absolutely,” said Varitek.
Beckett is at his best when his power can be off-set with his non-power stuff. He had all that stuff going against the Yankees.
“Very good,” Varitek said. “He had a good feel for his curveball. I think the power on his four-seamer set all that up.”
Did Varitek see a game like this coming?
“Some outings, you saw the power out of him in spring,” Varitek said. “It was no secret he was making some adjustments, making some mechanical adjustments and doing things. It’s not always an adjustment you can snap your fingers and make overnight. It’s a very good lineup. They were one man down [Alex Rodriguez], but the guy who took his place is pretty good himself. It was a very big start for us.”
Of course, with Varitek behind the plate for Beckett’s masterpiece, there will probably be public obsession now with whether the captain should handle all of Beckett’s starts. But manager Terry Francona doesn’t seem inclined to go in that direction. Instead, he will work in whatever direction gives him the best matchups, and also provides the most rest for the starting catcher, Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Headed to the park with an 0-4 lineup, the Red Sox have made one change to the lineup tonight, giving captain Jason Varitek his first start of the season behind the plate.
It is adverse moments like these when the Red Sox probably benefit most from still having Varitek around. He has a way of holding the team together, particularly the pitching staff.
Red Sox starters are 0-for-4 in quality starts, and perhaps Varitek’s presence can help Daisuke Matsuzaka change that trend tonight.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia is clearly struggling at the plate right now, and he’s probably feeling the burden of what is taking place from the mound, so his day off is well-timed by manager Terry Francona.
According to research done by ESPN, no team has ever won the World Series after going 0-4. I wouldn’t read much, or really anything, into that stat. For starters, there aren’t a ton of teams that get off to 0-4 starts, and even less with the caliber of players this roster has. How many World Series teams have had at least one four-game losing streak? I would venture to say, almost all of them.