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Source: Jason Varitek to announce retirement

02.27.12 at 6:06 pm ET
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Jason Varitek spent his entire 15-year big league career with the Red Sox. (AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — According to a major league source, catcher Jason Varitek will announce his retirement on Thursday. The 15-year veteran will accept a role in the Red Sox organization, according to the Boston Globe, which first reported the news of his retirement.

The Red Sox had offered Varitek a minor league deal with an invitation to big league spring training camp with the opportunity to compete for a role with the 2012 Sox. However, with no clear opening, Varitek evidently decided it was time to walk away.

Catherine Varitek, the wife of the catcher, wrote (via twitter): “I could not be more proud of my husband! What a truly remarkable 14 years with the Boston Red Sox. You are a true Champion!”

Varitek, 39, played in 1,546 games with the Sox, including a team record 1,488 as catcher. He hit .256 with a .341 OBP, .435 slugging percentage and .776 OPS, hitting 193 homers and driving in 757 runs. A three-time All-Star, Varitek was also the recipient of a Gold Glove award in 2005.

The catcher spent the entirety of his big league career with the Sox. He is one of just four players in franchise history to play an entire career of 15 or more seasons in Boston. The others are Carl Yastrzemski (23 years), Ted Williams (19) and Jim Rice (16).

The Sox acquired the former first-round pick, along with pitcher Derek Lowe, from the Mariners in exchange for reliever Heathcliff Slocumb on July 31, 1997, in one of the most lopsided trades in team history. Varitek emerged as the primary catcher by 1999, a role in which he remained cemented through two World Series triumphs.

However, after long being viewed as one of the top offensive and defensive catchers in the game, Varitek’s performance at the plate started to decline precipitously in 2008, and by the middle of the 2009 season, the Sox felt compelled to make a trade to acquire Victor Martinez. Varitek became a part-time player (backing up Martinez) in 2009 and 2010, then hit .221 with a .300 OBP, .423 slugging mark and .723 OPS along with 11 homers and 36 RBI in 68 games for the Sox last year while backing up Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Varitek, who was named team captain when he signed a four-year, $40 million with the team following the 2004 season, ranks ninth in franchise history in games played and 10th in doubles (306).

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