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Jason Varitek returns, and eyes playing beyond 2010

09.07.10 at 11:28 pm ET
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It was an inglorious time at which to return to the field. The Red Sox were trailing by 12 runs, and the team had made the decision to pull the plug in the sixth inning.

But even with his team trailing, 14-2, the significance was not lost on Jason Varitek. For the first time since June 30, he was on the field in a major league game, behind the Fenway Park plate that has been his crouching station for so many years. The moment, Varitek said, was “tremendously” exciting, a reward for months of hard work to come back.

“I’€™ve had a long time, a lot of work, and a lot of different people spent time with me from 1 o’€™clock in the afternoon till game time,” said Varitek. “I caught the ball good. I took some good swings. It was nice to be out there and to actually get into a game.”

Yet this was not the first step of a farewell tour for the Red Sox captain. Varitek, who went 0-for-2, said after the game that he envisions playing at least one more year, and perhaps several. The 2010 season — aside from the freak foul ball that broke his left foot — has left him feeling healthier and stronger than he has in years. That being the case, he looks forward to the opportunity to continue his career.

“I definitely want to play. There’€™s no question,” Varitek said. “Things have, health-wise, turned the corner outside of a freak broken bone that allows me to do some things at a high, high level. I definitely want to play.”

Varitek said that, in achieving health, he has realized how challenging the grind of recent seasons was, as he tried to push through injury. But now, perhaps because he was operating in a part-time role behind Victor Martinez this year, he feels that his bat has regained quickness, and that his actions behind the plate are better than they have been in some time.

“I’€™m able to make some adjustments offensively. I’€™m probably able to throw the ball better than I have ever in my entire life,” Varitek said. “And then the things you take pride in: Being able to block the ball, move, do things. I think that at some levels I’€™m just doing things better than I ever have.”

That being the case, Varitek is convinced that the 2010 season will not be his last. While he would like to play beyond 2011 as well, he is withholding judgment about just how much longer he wants to continue his career, at a time when he said that he has “no idea” how much the Sox will want him to play down the stretch.

“I want to listen to my body. At this point, I definitely want to play another year. I’€™d like to play a few more years. We’€™ll just have to see,” Varitek said. “If things go the other way and I wasn’€™t healthy, I’€™d have to evaluate. If my swings and stuff went the other direction, I’€™d have to evaluate. But I’€™ve made some drastic improvements, and I’€™m almost rejuvenated.”

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