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Varitek hoping to avoid boredom

02.20.10 at 3:00 pm ET

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Victor Martinez may have supplanted Jason Varitek as the regular catcher of the Red Sox but it was somewhat telling on the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers that it was Varitek who held court and was still held in very high regard by his manager.

Terry Francona made it clear that Varitek still commands a great presence in the team’s clubhouse.

“That would never change, in my opinion,” Francona declared. “I think Tek is kind of a special guy. I think he’s certainly earned that right to wear that ‘C’ and if his playing time changes a little bit, I don’t see his role diminishing ever, [in terms of] what he can bring to a team, even when he’s not in the lineup.

“He’s a very strong influence on our team and he always will be.”

The veteran catcher known for his direct approach with teammates and the media spoke for just over seven minutes Saturday on the designated bench in front of the Red Sox minor league clubhouse.

“A lot of things are going to play its way out but for the most part, I’m here to support Vic as much as possible and take the load off him as much as possible,” Varitek said.

“It happened for the last two months of the season last year so this isn’t necessarily new for me. Is it different? Of course it’s different but I think that in that role that it was last year, toward the end, probably got me prepared for this. I still got prepared to take a heavy load because I’m sure exactly how that’s going exactly to pan out, if it’s going to be once a week, twice a week, three times a week, you just don’t know.  I’m just preparing to move forward and work with Vic.”

[Click here to listen to Varitek talk about how he plans to support Victor Martinez.]

One thing is for sure, Varitek – who turns 38 on April 11 – will likely have more gas in the tank throughout the course of this season as he is not being asked to be the everyday catcher.

“Sometimes, I can get caught up in the grind, I can tend to be a little quieter, trying to conserve energy and do different things,” he said. “Maybe it will open up more communication with Tito and the teammates and anyway I can help. Sometimes, you get bored from sitting there watching and you can figure out more ways to help.

“It’s going to be a work-in-progress on some things. Hopefully, I’m able to maintain strength. It’s a different transition for my body than anything else.”

In short, the captain said on Saturday he still plans on finding ways of leading the team.

“The biggest asset I’ve always had is to be out there,” Varitek said. “Whether you’re hitting well or not hitting well, things going well as a team or not, they could depend on [me] to be out there. That part’s going to be different. I know I might get a little bored but that might be a good thing. We’ll see.”

It was also somewhat fitting that one of the final questions asked of Varitek was how many more years he plans to play.

“I don’t know,” Varitek said. “Ask me at the end of this one.”

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