Results tagged ‘ Jason Varitek ’

First getaway day in 2010

It is a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in Kansas City, with the waterfall out in right-center in full effect. Perfect day for baseball.
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The only real lineup news for the Sox is J.D. Drew being out for a day with a stiff neck.  Bill Hall will make his first start of the year at short.

Of course, it will be intriguing to watch Clay Buchholz pitch today, because, at some point, Daisuke Matsuzaka is going to be in the rotation and someone is going to have to come out. Tim Wakefield didn’t look like that someone on Friday, when he threw seven terrific innings.

And a happy 38th birthday to Sox captain Jason Varitek, who celebrated with a pair of homers last night.

Washed away at Roger Dean

JUPITER, Fla. — This is Alden Gonzalez here, filling in for Ian Browne, and it looks like I brought some of that Miami-ish rain from home with me on Friday. Sorry about that.
DSC01617.jpgAnyway, it’s been raining all morning at Roger Dean Stadium — and the night before — so the game was postponed before 11 a.m. ET. Here’s how it affects the Red Sox:
* They’ll play their regularly scheduled game against the Pirates at home on Saturday, at 1:05 p.m. ET (weather permitting). They’ll then play a 5 1/2-inning ‘B’ game against some of the guys from Minor League camp. Clay Buchholz (Friday’s scheduled starter) will start the game against the Pirates, followed by Michael Bowden. 
* Pitching in the ‘B’ game will be Hideki Okajima, Daniel Bard, Casey Kelly, Ramon Ramirez and others.

* Boston will now come back here to make this contest up on March 22 as part of a split-squad game. The other half of the squad will be back home playing the Rays. That will mark back-to-back split-squad doubleheaders on the schedule.
* Since the Marlins weren’t here on Friday (they were busy getting rained out in Sarasota, Fla.), Red Sox hitters were able to utilize the batting cages, and a few guys threw off the mound before they headed back to Fort Myers, Fla. 
* Mike Lowell (thumb) is still on track to play in his first exhibition game on Monday, against the Orioles. Daisuke Matsuzaka (upper back) is still scheduled to throw to hitters on Saturday. That will be at 11:30 a.m. in the backfields at City of Palms Park.
* Francona said his “best guess” would be that Jason Varitek, who missed a few days while attending to his ailing father, would play again against the Twins on Sunday, even though he’s itching to play tomorrow.
“I know he’s chomping at the bit, I just don’t think it makes any sense to rush and send him backwards,” Francona added.
* It’s too bad for Jupiter residents that the weather didn’t hold up. Even though Kevin Youkilis was the only everyday player in the lineup for the Red Sox, this contest was sold out.
“If I was the Cardinals, and I had a sellout, I would want to play the game, too,” said Francona, whose squad traveled 2 1/2 hours from Fort Myers. “I don’t blame them. If they want to pay for our dinner last night, we’ll accept it.” 

– Alden Gonzalez

Captain returns to camp

It has been a rough few days for Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek, who left camp late last week because of an illness to his father.

The catcher returned on Wednesday, but it might take him a couple of days to get back into the swing of things. He did have one nice diversion — pictured below by Brita Meng Outzen — when he got to participate in the eremonial first pitch with his friend Nomar Garciaparra, who officially retired as a member of the Red Sox earlier in the day.
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“Yeah, it’s a weird feeling. It’s just a different feeling,” Varitek said. “A little tired. I’m tired. I was tired today. it’s been a stressful, straining week, whatever, five or six days, whatever long it’s been. Guys have been great. Had a ton of text messages from [general manager] Theo [Epstein] down to [manager Terry Francona] down to [catching instructor Gary] Tuck down to my teammates. Family has been great. Friend support in the area has been awesome. I’m just very thankful that many people have reached out.”

Varitek, respecting the wishes of his mother, is keeping his father’s condition private at this time.

The Red Sox have given the catcher their blessing to do whatever he needs to from a family standpoint. Varitek’s parents live in the Orlando area, which is less than three hours from the Red Sox’s training base in Fort Myers.

Varitek has played in just one exhibition game this spring — the exhibition contest against Boston College on March 3. He said that he might be game-ready by Friday, though he could wait for Saturday when Boston has a home game.

A clean bill of health

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The weather was crisp, the sun was beaming and the crowds were healthy. It was a good day at Red Sox camp on Monday — and the injury report reflected that.

Here are some camp tidbits on the ailing Daisuke Matsuzaka, Mike Lowell and Mike Cameron, plus some other stuff …
* Red Sox manager Terry Francona was pretty giddy about Matsuzaka’s progress on returning from tightness in his upper back, saying the Japanese right-hander “had a great day.” Matsuzaka, who threw from 150 feet on Sunday, increased the distance to 180-200 feet — Francona said he got “real aggressive” — and finished up throwing a bit off the mound, with the catcher standing up. 
Matsuzaka said through his interpreter that he threw about 25-30 pitches off the mound and would ideally like to throw his bullpen on Thursday. 
“That was about as good a day, I think, as you could have,” Francona said. “I don’t think you can throw the ball like that and not be totally healthy. So, probably start thinking about towards the end of the week, getting him some real mound work where he’s throwing some sides and throwing to hitters and going through that progression. But that was a real, real good day.”
* Lowell (right thumb) hit some actual pitches in the batting cage, taking in three rounds of about 15 pitches each. Lowell said, “It went OK,” and Francona said he’ll take batting practice on the field on Tuesday. “Sounds like it went real well,” Francona added. There’s still no timetable as to when Lowell — pictured below by Brita Meng Outzen with Adrian Beltre — will actually play in a Spring Training game.

* Cameron  didn’t do any of the outfield drills, but he took batting practice, as pictured below. “He has improved,” Francona said.
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* Utility man Bill Hall took some grounders at shortstop today. If Lowell isn’t traded before Opening Day, they’ll need him to be able to play the position because Jed Lowrie likely wouldn’t find a place on the 25-man roster. If Lowell stays with the team, the bench would likely be composed of Jason Varitek, Hall, Jeremy Hermida (more on him later) and Lowell. 
Hall is obviously the only one with shortstop experience in that group, having played 261 career games there but none since 2006. So, can he work out at shortstop again?
“I hope so,” Francona said. “That’s something we’ll find out this spring.”
* Jonathan Papelbon’s first game action will come Thursday, in the Grapefruit League opener against the nearby Twins. 
– Alden Gonzalez

Opening Day lineups set (in a way)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — OK, so it’s not really Opening Day, per se, but it is the first game of the 2010 season (never mind the fact that it doesn’t count, and it’s a doubleheader against two college programs). Anyway, the Red Sox finalized the lineup for that Wednesday exhibition-opening doubleheader at City of Palms Park. Victor Martinez will bat third in the opener, and captain Jason Varitek will make his spring debut in the nightcap.
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Here it is …
Against Northeastern (1:05 p.m. ET)
Jacoby Ellsbury, LF
Bill Hall, 3B
Victor Martinez, C
David Ortiz, DH
Jed Lowrie, SS
Lars Anderson, 1B
Darnell McDonald, RF
Che-Hsuan Lin, CF
Gil Velazquez, 2B
SP: Casey Kelly
Against Boston College (6:05 p.m.)
Marco Scutaro, SS
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Jason Varitek, C
Jeremy Hermida, LF
Tug Hulett, DH
Josh Reddick, CF
Ryan Kalish, CF
SP: Boof Bonser
By the way, I’m filling in for Ian Browne on Red Sox duty today. Follow along if you’re on Twitter (@Alden_Gonzalez), and feel free to drop me a line via e-mail (Alden.Gonzalez@mlb.com).
– Alden Gonzalez

Putting the brakes on theft

How bad were the Red Sox at controlling the running game last year? Very bad. They gave up 151 stolen bases, 19 more than any other team in the Majors. Opponents were safe against the Red Sox in 90.4 percent of stolen base attempts, another league high.

It is something the Red Sox are seriously trying to correct this spring, as manager Terry Francona points out that there has been extra time spent in early drills on pitchers holding runners.

“Well, our first two days have been on picks. Both days.,” Francona said. “There’s a fine line there, where you’re trying to do things correctly, but you’re not doing it at the expense of something else. There are going to be times when Pap comes in and gives up a stolen base. He’s a closer, there’s times you need to execute a pitch as opposed to giving up a two-run homer. We always feel that way. At the same time, we didn’t do a good enough job. So we need to improve. You always evaluate what you’ve done and not done in the offseason and try to do it better. That’s certainly an area we want to improve on.”

Jason Varitek and Victor Martinez took a lot of blame for all the steals, but the first line of defense is from the pitchers varying times and making good moves to the plate.

Martinez, pictured below by Brita Meng Outzen, said Thursday that he understands how it can be difficult for pitchers to hold runners, and if people want to blame him, he’ll be glad to be held accountable.
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bviously that’s another big part of the game, but at the same time, everybody has to know that the pitchers have a really tough job. They have to worry about making a pitch, throwing it in a location. Thinking about making a quality pitch, plus on top of that, controlling the running game. that’s a lot. The last thing you want is for a pitcher to think too much on the mound. As a catcher, you want them to worry about just being focused on the hitters.”

“You know what, I take the blame,” Martinez said. “I don’t mind. Our job is to make things easier for the pitcher. It’s 162 games. You want to be perfect but you’re not. The pitchers have a really tough job to do. There’s always room to improve and always room to get better. We’ll see what happens. We have a great pitching staff.”

Some other nuggets from the day: Third baseman Adrian Beltre rolled his ankle on Wednesday and was limited during Thursday’s workout. The injury is not belived to be serious in any way, shape or form.

“He stepped on a ball… he actually kind of twisted his ankle,” Francona said. “He went through all his stuff yesterday and extra. Today, we decided to tell him, go in the cage, he did some running in the cage and hitting. I’d be very surprised if he wasn’t back out there tomorrow.”

Thursday marked the first day pitchers threw live BP. It was the relievers’ day to throw, so Jonathan Papelbon, Manny Delcarmen and Daniel Bard were among those who faced hitters.

Bard looked particularly dominant.

“John Farrell said he was explosive, used all three pitches, used a good changeup – he’s really trying to throw his changeup, get a feel for that, let it be a weapon, especially against left handers, and it sounds like he had a real good day,” Francona said.

And Papelbon was uninhibited by a sore back that troubled him earlier in the week.

“I agree with that, there wasn’t a lot of effort when the ball came out of his hand,” Francona said. “You’re always looking for positives. But it was nice to watch him throw, and not have a lot of effort.”

The Red Sox will take the field a half hour earlier than normal on Friday because of their annual Spring Training golf tournament for charity. They will come out at 9 instead of 9:30.

Now that one Jason is back, what becomes of the other?

The catching situation is now finalized. Jason Varitek has agreed to be a $3 million backup for next season. Now, on to some of the other matters of the offseason.

What will it take to keep Jason Bay under the employ of the Boston Red Sox? There have been several reports — though none substantiated — that Boston has made an offer somewhere around four years at $60 million. If that is indeed the case, I’m very encouraged that they can get something done.

If not, Holliday is not a bad alternative. Not at all. But Bay has already proved he can play in Boston while Holliday might need an adjustment period.

What else does Theo Epstein have up his sleeve this winter? I just get the feeling there is going to be a major move or two, but it’s too early to say what. The market needs to play itself out for a while.

If the Captain returns, will he keep his C?

Jason Varitek is one phone call away from putting himself back on the Red Sox’s roster for 2009. He simply has to tell the club he will exercise his $3 million player option.

At the GM Meetings in Chicago yesterday, general manager Theo Epstein made it clear that Victor Martinez will be a full-time catcher, which leaves Varitek playing once or maybe twice a week.

Under that scenario, would Varitek feel awkward keeping the C on his jersey? Knowing how much pride that man has, I think he might pass it on to Pedroia or simply give up his captainship.

Varitek knows better than anyone how important it is to be in the trenches every day, and my personal feeling is that he might feel sheepish about being a captain with a highly reduced role.

At any rate, Varitek has earned the right to do what makes him comfortable. He has until Saturday to inform the Red Sox if he will accept his option or become a free agent.

Stay tuned.

Varitek will help in any way he can

Always at the forefront of recent Red Sox postseason runs, Jason Varitek enters this one in a highly uncertain role. More likely than not, Varitek will start most — if not all — games on the bench in this Division Series, which starts Thursdya night against the Angels.

“You can’t really control playing time, but you can control the other parts where you contribute,” Varitek said. “It may not be by playing. It may be on the bench. You can’t really control those things, but it’s not the time of year to be selfish.”

How hard has it been?

“It’s different,” Varitek said. “It’s definitely different.”

Again, Varitek reiterated this was no time of year to sulk.

“I think we’re in the postseason. I don’t know what’s disappointing about being in the postseason. Everybody in this locker room at some point has helped the team win games,” Varitek said.

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.”

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