March 1, 2012 by staff
Jason Varitek, The retirement of Boston Red Sox catcher and team captain Jason Varitek, just short of his 40th birthday April 11, had his former teammates reminiscing about a man who helped his team win two World Series titles.
For 14 seasons – 15 if you count his token game in 1997 – Varitek provided a presence behind the plate and in the clubhouse.
Varitek finished his career with a .256 batting average, 193 home runs, 757 RBIs and 1,307 hits.
But it was Varitek’s presence as a catcher and work with his pitchers that Josh Beckett will miss the most. Beckett said it made sense for Varitek and knuckleball pitcher Tim Wakefield to end their careers at the same time.
“It’s still going to be fun,” Beckett said of the 2012 season. “Obviously, he’s not going to be catching me this year. I hope he’s happy with his decision. I think it’s pretty cool that they both did it the same year and the same time. I just hope he’s OK with his decision.
“I loved working with him. I’ve never had a catcher before that I’ve felt like cared more about wanting me to be successful even before he wanted to be successful. He would do that in the clubhouse and on the field.”
Beckett several times said he hoped Varitek was happy with retirement. The Red Sox invited Varitek to spring training but would not give him a big-league deal. Varitek hit .221 in 68 games last season.
“It’s unfortunate,” Beckett said. “I think he wanted to play another year, but I don’t think he wants to go anywhere else. He’s a guy you could always bounce something off of. It didn’t matter what it was. It could be personal stuff. You were pretty confident he was going to be honest with you and would try to help you.”
Beckett and fellow starting pitcher Clay Buchholz said they learned early not to shake off any of Varitek’s pitching recommendations.
“He’s a guy when you’re on the mound and you shake him off, he sort of just stares at you, and you’re like, ‘OK, I’ll go ahead and throw that pitch,’” Buchholz said.
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