Red Sox react to retirement of Jason Varitek
|02.28.12 at 10:17 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — With the news spreading of the retirement of Red Sox captain Jason Varitek on Thursday, the players he leaves behind in the clubhouse began to react on Tuesday.
‘It was awesome being a part getting to play four seasons with him and being able to throw to a guy that everybody is going to remember as the captain of the Boston Red Sox. It was a good time for everybody. I hope his decision makes him and his family happy and they go with their lives and know that he was one of the greatest guys ever behind the plate.’
What he learned from Varitek:
‘How to pitch. He’s a guy that you know when you’re on the mound and you shake him off and he sort of just stares at you, you’re like, ‘OK, I won’t throw that pitch. Don’t worry about it.’ Especially being a young guy coming up and you’re already intimated by just pitching in front of 40,000 people at Fenway and then you have Jason Varitek catching you.
‘How to slow the game down, how to pitch to certain guys, how to get out of situations. He was a vocal part of my learning experience in baseball.
What he remembers about Varitek calling the no-hitter of Sept. 2, 2007 vs. Orioles:
‘A couple of times, early in the game, I shook him off a couple of times and had a couple of missiles hit and they were caught but after that, it was like, ‘OK, I’m just going to throw what he puts down.’ The game started to speed up on me a couple of times. I remember him calling timeout, running out there and telling me to take a couple of deep breaths and throw a pitch wherever, down and away, get a ground ball and get out of an inning. That’s what I’ll always remember about him, he was always the guy that could always calm you down when he things were starting to speed up.”
Did he expect Varitek to show in camp?:
‘He’s an animal. You see how every year he comes into spring training, what he looks like, how his body is a specimen. I was expecting Tek to play until he was 60. He was awesome behind [the plate] and still think he could be awesome behind the plate and have a job in baseball but that was his and his family’s decision.’
‘He meant a lot obviously. He helped me out a lot last year. The year before, he was trying to recover from injury so we didn’t get to spend a lot of on-field time together but still picking his brain a lot. But last year, [he] was a huge, huge help for getting my career back on track. And just the person he is, you can’t find a better person.
‘Just the way he went about his business, watching him. Wasn’t even in the clubhouse, but I could just see from across the field how people looked at him, how people respected him. You definitely look up to a guy like that.’
What Varitek did for helping him lead the Red Sox pitching staff:
‘I was definitely a little hesitant. I didn’t know how to act towards the pitchers. I always kind of looked toward him, ‘Get this meeting started, get this started.’ But he did an unbelievable job of letting those guys where I stood and where he stood. It was kind of overwhelming. I didn’t expect that, didn’t expect him to be so helpful and [tell me], ‘Hey man, this is your team.’ I said, ‘You’re the captain, it’s your team.’
“That’s the kind of person he is. He always wanted to make me feel comfortable. He always wanted to make me feel comfortable. He always wanted to help me out, stuck up for me and I can’t thank him enough for jump-starting my career.’
What Varitek did for his career:
‘He kind of gave me the confidence back I need to be a player. He’s just such a special guy, special player, we’re going to continue to have that relationship open and I can go to him at any time.
‘I think he’s definitely going to miss. I still think he had a year or two left but he wanted to play here. He’s a loyal guy. Anytime you retire, it’s going to be tough, I’m assuming. But he’s one guy who can walk away from the game and still be happy.’
“Well, I mean, we’re still going to be friends. Obviously, he’s not going to be catching this year. I hope he’s happy with the decision. I think it’s a tough one to make, with [Tim Wakefield] doing it earlier and with him doing it. I think it’s pretty cool that they both did it the same year and I just hope they’re both OK with their decisions.
“I loved working with him. I’ll answer that part first. I’ve never had a catcher before that who I felt like cared more about what wanting me to be successful even before he wanted to be successful. He’s going to be missed a lot in the clubhouse and on the field.”
What Varitek did for him during games:
“I think most of it was just the amount of time that he spent on it. A lot of times, I use this analogy, he’d call a pitch and I’d shake, and he’d throw the same pitch down because maybe he saw something I didn’t see. Obviously, he’s closer to the plate and the batter and eveyrthing. I knew then that I could have conviction in that he saw something that he really wanted to do that with.”
Did he think Varitek would return:
“I know he would’ve been ready for that. That’s kind of why I say I hope he’s happy with his decision. It’s unfortunate. I think he wanted to play another year, but I don’t think he wants to go anywhere else. I can see why.”
How Varitek led in the Red Sox clubhouse:
“He was a guy you could always bounce something off of. Didn’t matter what it was, if it was personal stuff. You were pretty confident he was going to be honest with you and try to help you.”
Did you ever play with anyone like him?
“No. I’m probably a little biased. I’m sure there’s some guys on other teams that have guys on their teams that they say the same thing about. But even watching him from afar, you can see other guys on other teams have that respect for Jason, and he deserved it.”
“A great teammate. It was fun. It was a good ride being Tek’s teammate. There are a lot of memories involved. Just watching him retire, it’s something unusual, but a lot of great memories.
“He did say a lot but he just always found the right moment to say it. He did say a lot. Tek is somebody this organization is going to need forever. Especially now, that he’s going to retire, this is the kind of person this organization is going to need to keep very close but this is a guy that does nothing but add things, good things. It was an honor for me to be his teammate. I learned a lot of good things from Tek but one of the most important things from Tek was the hard work. He based his whole life on working hard and making sure you were OK.”
“His preparation was so good, it was ridiculous. He was a guy that, as long as I watch him play, he wanted to play well, do well and be prepared for that moment.”
On missing Tek in the clubhouse:
“It’s something we’re not used to it. We’re used to seeing Tek walking around, doing his thing. You walk in here and the first person you see is Tek. Walking in here this year, and not seeing him, it’s something unexpected. So, watching him make this decision, hopefully he feels good about it and hopefully, he’s being honest with himself. Man, we’re going to miss him.”
On being the last active member of the Red Sox since the 2004 World Series championship team:
“That’s something that I don’t really look at it that way but it is what it is, right? It’s been a long time since, too, and we’ll see how long that goes.”
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