Varitek Reflects on His Role
|10.07.09 at 9:12 pm ET|
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Jason Varitek doesn’t hide from the fact. Since the arrival of Victor Martinez, his playing time has diminished steadily, as Martinez has been entrusted with a greater and greater share of the workload, to the point where Varitek says candidly that he doesn’t know when or if he will be starting this postseason.
That represents a sea change in the Red Sox universe. Since 2003, the Sox have played in 54 postseason games, and Varitek has played in all but two of those. But he has never been in a struggle such as the one in which he finds himself, and the Sox have never had an alternative like Martinez. From June 7 through the end of the year, Varitek hit .179/.296/.292/.588.
Since the Sox acquired Martinez, Varitek’s offensive woes have been even more pronounced. Starting on Aug. 1, he is hitting .134 (worst in the majors among those with at least 100 at-bats), has a .220 OBP (third worst in the majors) and .216 slugging mark (worst in the majors). In the same span, Martinez has hit .336/.405/.507 and has been a middle of the order force.
And so, Varitek has no longer been able to assume that he will start on any given day, or with any pitcher. Martinez has become the regular receiver for Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, and has worked with Josh Beckett of late. He has also had the chance to work with Daisuke Matsuzaka. And so, Varitek is forced to adjust. He admits that the situation is novel, but he does not object.
“It’s different. It’s definitely different,” said Varitek. “You can’t really control playing time, but you can control the other parts where you contribute. 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.”
The Sox captain said that he is still doing everything in his power to remain ready in case the Sox need him. At the same time, he is more than willing to contribute by offering Martinez any information that may prove of help.
“Vic’s been great. He’s been a huge part of our team, a huge part of our offense. He swings the bat really well, and does a really good job behind the plate,” said Varitek. “I think we have a very good relationship, first from the respect factor of playing against each other, then from working together. Sometimes, over the course of learning and talking through stuff, a word of something from Victor to me helps me or vice-versa.”
Of course, the information flow may prove one-sided. There is a decent chance that during the playoffs, Martinez will be the Sox’ everyday catcher. Varitek may be limited to spot starts or a bench role. Varitek has yet to learn what sort of role, in any, he will play. But given that he is on a Red Sox postseason roster for the 15th different series, he refuses to express any disappointment about his role.
“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. “Your level of how special this opportunity is goes well beyond anything personal.”
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