|Was that it for Jason Varitek in Boston?||10.04.10 at 9:17 am ET|
Jason Varitek has never been one to speak about his own accomplishments that much. But what his bosses said following the 2010 season finale spoke volumes about what he has meant to the team, organization and city of Boston since the Red Sox aquired him and Derek Lowe for Heathcliff Slocumb at the trade deadline in 1997.
“I don’t think anyone deserves that kind of reception from the fans more than he does.” Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said of the captain. “No matter happens going forward, he’s a Red Sox more than anyone one of us, he’s a Red Sox.”
Then, without stopping Epstein, continued and acknowledged why the fans were giving him a standing ovation before his eighth-inning flyout to deep right center and his coming off the field before the top of the ninth began.
“The future is uncertain,” Epstein said. “Although warmth the fans showed, his teammates showed may have seemed like a goodbye, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.”
Indeed, the Red Sox have a huge question facing them heading into 2011. Do they make an offer to Jason Varitek, similar to the one he just finished out, two years, $8 million?
There’s one big reason they would.
If Victor Martinez, who sounded after Sunday’s game like he was very much looking forward to free agency, doesn’t return, who’s going to catch for the Red Sox?
Or Jason Varitek?
‘I just have to be patient and see what happens,” Varitek said in acknowledging his uncertain future. “There are a lot of things that have to be decided here. It’s not like there are one or two moving parts. There’s a lot of things to be decided.
“I don’t know if I can really answer that. All I can be is appreciative of being here. My time here, my teammates, the organization and importantly, the fans. I’ve said it, my kinds have grown up here. My oldest is 10 and I’ve been here 13 years. This is a part of them, too.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Terry Francona on D&H transcription||09.29.10 at 1:48 pm ET|
Red Sox manager Terry Francona, appearing on the Dale & Holley show one day after his team was eliminated officially from the playoff race, acknowledged the disappointment that his team will not be playing beyond this coming weekend. While Francona lauded the effort put forth by the 2010 Sox, he said that it will be difficult to follow a postseason in a year when his team is not in it.
“I’ll have [the playoffs] on. Down deep, I like baseball so much,” Francona said. “But it’s a bad feeling. It’s probably hard to explain. It probably sounds a lot like sour grapes. But we’re just not ready to go home. I know you’re supposed to be a good sport and congratulate the other team, but it’s hard. You want to be there. And we’ve been there before. There’s probably jealousy and envy. We just don’t like it.”
Following is a transcript. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
We sort of expected it would become official and it finally did last night, was it sort of inevitable you felt going down this last week or so?
I don’t know, we actually probably never really tried to think about it. I think sometimes if you’re supposed to try to be practical, you know, it doesn’t pay to be. We’re just trying to win and win and win and hope somebody else lost and, you know, just trying to make it last as long as possible. Like you said, it ended last night but, you know, we just, I don’t know, common sense, I don’t know if that really helps you sometimes.
You sound a little down, is it officially not making the playoffs or is it something else?
Oh, I’m just sick, everybody’s passing it around, and I’m miserable. I’m doing my best because my head feels like it’s beaten against the wall.
So what’s the plan now that it’s official, how do you approach the final days of the season?
You know, probably not a whole lot different. We’ve been trying to balance, for the last two weeks, playing some of the younger guys, keeping some guys healthy, you know, the veterans have been playing and playing hurt are doing such a great job. We’ll probably do pretty similar the rest of the way out. We have five games left and we’ll probably try to do that. We’re certainly not going to over-pitch somebody or overextend somebody, but at the same time, you know, we’re professional ball players and our guys have been in and out of the lineup and we’ll continue to mix and match and hopefully win games.
|Jason Varitek returns, and eyes playing beyond 2010||09.07.10 at 11:28 pm ET|
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.”
|Postgame Notes: The (Wally) Bell tolled for Hall, Sox||09.04.10 at 6:34 pm ET|
Bill Hall had the pivotal at-bat of the Red Sox‘ 3-1 loss to the White Sox. After Jed Lowrie walked on four pitches, Hall stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the second inning, at a time when his team trailed, 1-0.
Hall struck out on three pitches against Chicago starter John Danks. After the game, Hall made clear that he believed home plate umpire Wally Bell was in no small measure responsible.
“We had the bases loaded. I came up. He’d just thrown four straight balls, so obviously it’s a situation where I’m on the take. Umpire gave him a pitch that wasn’t really even close,” said Hall. “When you get behind in the count against a guy like that, give him a chance to make pitches on a guy that can make pitches, it’s going to be tough. Next batter came up, [Darnell McDonald, who grounded into a 6-4 fielder’s choice], same thing.
“When you give a guy a chance to make pitches and you’re worried about swinging at pitches you don’t normally swing at, it puts you in a bind as a hitter. you start to expand your zone and swing at pitches because you don’t know if he’s going to call it a strike or call it a ball. We squandered an opportunity right there. Obviously, one pitch shouldn’t define an at-bat, but it definitely can put you in a hole. He made pitches after those.”
—Jason Varitek will start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday, catching four or five innings. He might also DH on Monday in the PawSox’ season finale.
—Mike Lowell discussed further the non-displaced rib fracture that he suffered on Aug. 20.
It has been an amazing run, of course, for the ribs of Red Sox players. Jacoby Ellsbury has missed almost the entire year after his collision with Adrian Beltre in April. Jeremy Hermida missed several weeks after he met Beltre’s knee.
Now, Lowell becomes the third member of the club to suffer a fracture that is rarely seen among baseball players.
“Beltre didn’t even hit me,” marveled Lowell, of an injury he incurred from a run-in with Blue Jays infielder John McDonald. “I just think it’s a freak thing.”
That said, Lowell feels that his game is not impaired by the injury, which was diagnosed as a fracture following an MRI and CT scan on Friday.
“It bothers me to sleep or if I get fooled swinging, so don’t get fooled,” Lowell offered. “They told me as long as I can deal with it, I can play. Hurting my hip last year, this is a much lesser inconvenience. Obviously I feel it sometimes. And when I finish all my cage routine, that’s when I feel it. I don’t think it changes my swing so I’m cool with that.”
—J.D. Drew and David Ortiz were a combined 0-for-8 with four strikeouts, with all but one of those outs coming against White Sox lefty Danks. Ortiz is hitting .205/.259/.315/.574 against lefties, and Drew is hitting .183/.278/.290/.568 against them.
|Tek to return with PawSox on Sunday||at 5:42 pm ET|
For the first time since breaking a bone in his right foot in late June, Jason Varitek has been cleared to return to game action.
The team announced following Saturday’s Game 1 loss to the White Sox that Varitek will catch four-to-five innings for Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday at McCoy Stadium.
Varitek will then DH for the PawSox in their season finale on Monday afternoon before a possible return to the Red Sox active roster on Tuesday. Varitek met with team doctors on Saturday to get final clearance to return to game action.
Earlier Saturday, manager Terry Francona said the team captain could be nearing a return to game action following a meeting Saturday with doctors. Varitek has been out of action with a broken foot since taking a Carl Crawford foul ball off his right foot on June 30 against Tampa Bay.
“He’s going to meet with the medical people and doctors today,” Francona said. “We’ll see what they’ll allow him to do. Hopefully, he’ll be able to go play, we’ll see. I know time is running out for the Triple-A guys so today is an important day and important meeting for him.”
The Triple-A PawSox conclude their season with a pair of home games Sunday and Monday at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket against Syracuse.
|Pedroia to Tito: I was a ‘moron’||at 2:45 pm ET|
But at least his sense of humor is still in tact.
“He actually sent me a picture on his [cell] phone before he went into surgery. He took a picture of himself. He called himself a moron, which I agree with. Then [wife] Kelli called me, which I appreciated and he actually called me a little bit later. Then he actually called me a little bit later and sounded good.
“Then from what I understand, like a lot of people, he got a little nauseous, you know, it happens,” Francona said. “He went home and had a long night, but talked to him this morning and he sounded pretty upbeat. It sounds like, I’m sure Dr. [George] Theodore will have a report for you guys, but it sounded really encouraging from everything.
“From when they went in and saw the amount of healing, that it was in a line. It just sounded really optimistic. So that was good to hear. Certainly rather hear that than have them come out and say, ‘Oh boy, this isn’t what we thought it was going to be and things like that.'”
Perhaps most encouraging was the news that come Dec. 1 or thereabouts, Pedroia should be just about on track for a normal offseason conditioning program.
‘That was a big reason why they did it [Friday],” Francona said. “That will give him, whatever the timetable is, four-to-six weeks with crutches, that’s basically what, three months? That gets Dec. 1, right? That’s basically when guys, and I know Pedey works before that, but that’s really when the winter program kind of starts, so yeah, he should have pretty much a normal winter, which should be terrific.”
In short, Francona said there’s reason to think Pedroia will make a full and complete recovery from Friday’s procedure to put a pin in his left foot to help heal the broken bone.
“It sounded really encouraging,” Francona said. “When they went in and saw the amount of healing and that it was in a line, it just sounded really optimistic so that was good to hear. Certainly, we’re glad to hear that have [doctors] come out and say, ‘Oh boy, this isn’t what we thought it was going to be.'”
After the Chicago White Sox were awarded Manny Ramirez this week on a straight waiver claim from the Los Angeles Dodgers, the slugger gets another chance to return to Fenway Park this weekend for a three-game series.
Asked if he thinks Ramirez can make an impact on the American League Central race, Francona sounded hopeful his team could get the job done like they did in June when Manny came back in Dodger blue.
“I hope not this weekend,” Francona said. The question was asked by New York Daily News sports writer Roger Rubin toward the end of Saturday’s briefing with reporters. Francona added, “You came all the way up here for that?”
The White Sox enter Saturday’s doubleheader with a 73-60 mark, four games behind the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central.
|Varitek: ‘I’m ready to go’||09.02.10 at 12:12 am ET|
BALTIMORE — Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek, following an examination of his left foot by Dr. George Theodore on Wednesday, said that he expects that he will be cleared to play following a CT scan on Friday. Barring an unexpected development, Varitek — who has been out since a foul ball broke the appendage on June 30 — believes he will be green-lighted for rehab games this weekend, following a return to the Red Sox.
“Honestly, I don’t really have much of a doubt right now. I’m ready to go,” said Varitek. “I wouldn’t feel the way I feel and be able to do what I’ve been able to do if I wasn’t. … I’ve just got to pass the CT scan, and then they give me the go-ahead and let me go. I’m ready.”
Varitek had been enjoying a strong first half at the time of his injury. He was hitting .263 with a .324 OBP, .547 slugging mark and .871 OPS. He was expected to serve as the Sox’ primary catcher following teammate Victor Martinez‘ trip to the disabled list, but Varitek was just a couple games into that tenure before his injury sent him to the sidelines.
The road back has been longer than expected for the Red Sox Captain, who took pride in the fact that he has remained in game shape, thus positioning himself to return before the end of the season. As such, the 38-year-old admitted that he is giddy at the prospect of playing again.
“I’ve done a lot of work to be where I’m at, not just with my foot ‘ with everything, trying to maintain and stuff,” said Varitek. “I’ve punched in the time clock quite a while. I’m just excited to return to a little bit of a normal schedule.”
Varitek’s teammate, Dustin Pedroia, was also examined by Theodore. That evaluation showed significant healing in the left foot that has allowed Pedroia to play in just two games since June 25.
Even so, any determination about whether the second baseman requires surgery will have to wait until his CT scan on Friday. That outcome certainly remains a possibility.
“[Pedroia is] much improved from last week, when [Theodore] looked at him. A lot less pain on the range of motion and the resistance, which was really encouraging,” said manager Terry Francona. “I don’t think he’s ready to play, but it was really encouraging to see the amount of healing that’s taken place over a week, so we were really happy about that.
“I think Friday’s probably an important day,” Francona continued. “I think it was a good visit. He explained things, he diagrammed some things, which is good, I think he explained to him what the surgery would potentially be. It was a good visit.’
|A good Tek report||08.21.10 at 6:03 pm ET|
In a season ravaged by injury, the Red Sox are happy their captain is making progress in an effort to get back on the field. Jason Varitek is not close to resuming his position behind the plate but following a Friday conference call at Fenway, he has reason to believe he’s moving in the right direction.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Varitek, who broke his right foot on June 30 against Tampa Bay, had a conference call on Friday afternoon with manager Terry Francona, his agent Scott Boras, team trainer Mike Reinold and a pair of doctors to discuss how much progress was being made.
‘He did a really good job of articulating how he felt,” Francona said of Varitek. “What [Dr. Robert Johnson] basically said was that he doesn’t feel that Jason can’t hurt that foot, even when he feels some discomfort, which is good.
‘Now, Tek’s not ready to play. He’s able to advance forward and continue his progression. He’s just not quite ready to play in a game yet. But the really good part of that is that if he feels some discomfort, neither doctor felt like he was putting himself in jeopardy so that was good to hear. I think Tek felt pretty relieved by that. When he’s ready, we don’t know.’
Red Sox prospect Yamaico Navarro, who connected on his first MLB swing Friday for a single, got his first start Saturday at second base as the Red Sox gave Jed Lowrie the night off.
On Friday, Lowrie moved from second to first in the top of the fifth inning as the Red Sox try to give him more time there to get comfortable if they need him in a pinch or as a late-game replacement.
‘He looked ok,” Francona said. “He’s been taking grounders there. We tried to take advantage of a miserable night, get him some time over there so that when he does play over there he doesn’t feel out of place. All infielders, they’re probably not going to have a tough time catching the ball but anytime when you’re playing a position where it’s not second nature, where you make a change of direction.
‘Actually, the first time he played out there a while back, he got a grounder and you could see him hesitate before he went to first base. It’s a not a natural movement. The more natural it can get, the best off we’ll all be.’
In other Red Sox news, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia will remain in at Massachusetts General Hospital until Monday as doctors continue to monitor an infection in his lower right leg.
‘He’s going to stay in the hospital until Monday I know it’s a little bit longer than we originally anticipated,” Francona said. “The antibiotics took a little bit longer to kind of get going. Saying that, he’s actually doing a lot better today. It’s more localized and he’s feeling better but it did take a little bit longer than I think we thought to kick in.”
With Saltalamacchia not eligible to come off until Sept. 1, when rosters expand to 40 and no disabled list, there’s no rush to have him hurry home and try to get ready for re-joining the team.
‘Originally, we thought about maybe not putting him on the DL,” Francona added. “But if you sit for four or five days in the hospital, it’s kind of stating the hospital that you need a couple of days to kind of get back on your feet. And since there wouldn’t be a DL, there wouldn’t be a rush to do that.’
‘The blood has still not come back. We know it’s an infection but they have not said what it is, though.’
|Check-up time for Ells and Tek||08.17.10 at 5:50 pm ET|
Jacoby Ellsbury had an exam with Dr. Lewis Yocum in Southern California Tuesday afternoon after landing on the disabled list for a third time over the weekend, re-injuring his ribs, while Jason Varitek will meet with doctors on Tuesday night to get the latest update on his broken right foot, according to Red Sox manager Terry Francona.
Ellsbury suffered his latest setback following a collision running out a ground ball down the first base line last Friday in Texas.
As for Varitek, Francona said the catcher’s right foot is healing and he continues to be able to run but is experiencing some lingering soreness.
“Tek had a scan,” Francona said. “There’s a lot of improvement. It still hasn’t fully healed. He’s going to get it examined. I think at this point, the examination is more important than what the scan says. The pain he’s still having is a little bit off of where the the bone was broken and he’s doing a great job and he’s running better now than he was before.”
|Pregame Notes: Red Sox vs. Yankees, 8/8||08.08.10 at 7:01 pm ET|
NEW YORK — It’s a fairly quiet evening here in the Bronx, aside from the news that the Yankees scratched A.J. Burnett after he experienced back spasms. With Burnett out, Dustin Mosely takes the ball for New York, thus rendering a not trivial percentage of this fine work from intern Matt West moot. Alex Rodriguez is back in the lineup for the Yankees as the cleanup hitter, and looked strong in batting practice, so it appears that the line drive that he took off the bat of teammate Lance Berkman during batting practice on Saturday will not keep him out for any extended period.
A few Red Sox notes, on a day when the Sox will have a chance to narrow the gap between them and the Rays to 3 1/2 games following the near no-hitter twirled against Tampa Bay by Blue Jays starter Brandon Morrow — a player whom the Mariners selected in the first round of the 2006 draft over Daniel Bard (for more on that, click here) and Tim Lincecum:
“Thanks for bringing that up,” said Sox pitching coach John Farrell.
The Sox are thrilled with what they’ve seen so far from Beckett in his three starts off the disabled list. He is 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA, and the Sox have won all three of his outings. The team has seen him build from outing to outing, as he has become more aggressive while realizing that his stuff affords him the opportunity to dominate.
“We wanted so bad for him to be Beckett, not to be out there in name only. That’s why we tried to be so patient. I think that proved to be a good decision,” said Francona. “He’s going out there and pitching now, that doesn’t guarantee a win, but it’s pretty exciting.
“You can see the progression,” Francona continued. “He’s getting a better feel for his breaking ball, throwing it better. I think that really should bode well for us.”
As painful as it was for the Sox to be without Beckett for two months, they believe their could be benefit in the form of having him stronger down the stretch, thanks to the fact that his arm was spared quite a bit of work.
—Dustin Pedroia and Jason Varitek both made strides in their attempts to return from foot fractures. Pedroia “had a real good day,” according to manager Terry Francona, running the bases more aggressively than he had to this point and also having a productive day in the field. Pedroia said afterward that he plans to run on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in Toronto to get a measure of his progress. His goal, as he said Friday, remains a return for the Sox by the start of the next homestand on Aug. 17.
Francona said that a rehab assignment was certainly a possibility given the amount of time Pedroia has missed (just over six weeks and counting). Right now, the only remaining hurdle for him is a return to running at full speed.
As for Varitek, he reported a “night and day” difference in how his foot feels now vs. a week ago. He took batting practice on the field for the first time since breaking his foot at the end of June, and after jogging for the first time a few days ago, he went running at what he described as 75 percent on Saturday, without any evidence of a setback. He is nearing the six-week mark of his injury, a point at which, the catcher said, “the governor comes off more.” Barring setbacks, Varitek is hopeful that, at that point, he will be able to start testing his foot to see how it responds to the demands of catching.
Martinez’ desire to catch could potentially come at his own detriment, particularly given that he spent a month on the sidelines without a rehab. Since returning on July 26, he has played every inning of all 11 Sox games, and he has been behind the plate for all but 15 frames.
“He loves to catch. He loves to catch everyday,” Francona said appreciatively of Martinez. “He doesn’t say anything about anything.”
The Sox feel that giving him some extra time at first base can help to keep him healthy and productive. The same is true regarding Lowell, whom Francona suggested had become fairly adept at managing his hip injury.
“[The days off] give him the best chance to be productive,” said Francona.
–After recording his first big league relief appearance on Saturday, Felix Doubront is likely unavailable on Sunday. Doubront impressed the Sox with a three-up, three-down inning that included a pair of punchouts.
—Jacoby Ellsbury is working to find his feel at the plate, according to Francona, who suggested that the leadoff hitter (0-for-12 in three games since returning) has been letting pitches get deeper on him than is ideal. Francona said that he also thinks that Ellsbury is working to regain his speed, but that Ellsbury would be helped immensely once he collects his first hit, something that might permit him to regain some lost confidence.
—Mike Cameron was planning on swinging off a tee for the first time since being placed on the disabled list on Monday.
—Kevin Youkilis wanted to rejoin the Sox either Sunday or Monday in New York, but as he recovers from his season-ending surgery, the Sox told him to take time to recover. The Sox he should either rejoin them in Texas next weekend or for the start of the next homestand.
While the Sox appreciate the player’s desire to be with his team, they also note that — given that he has not been slightly queasy in the aftermath of the surgery — there is little value to having him rush to the dugout.
“He can’t do anything right now physically,” said Francona.
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