February 15, 2009

SURE, YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO TELL WEALTHY VETERANS ANYTHING...:

Ball is rolling: Varitek glad to be back (Nick Cafardo, February 15, 2009, Boston Globe)

Welcome to the rest of your career, Jason Varitek.

Your tenure has been long and distinguished. You have acquitted yourself well with your professionalism and team-first attitude. Your work ethic is unmatched in the game.

But after you hit .220 last season and showed signs of decline, the Red Sox brought you back - for one year at $5 million, with team and player options for 2010. You'll earn $5 million in 2010 if the team picks up the option, $3 million if you do, with $2 million of incentives in that case.

Here's your chance to prove you can be the catcher and hitter you once were. If things should continue on the path they did a year ago, then the likelihood of you finishing your career with the Red Sox - which you referenced three times yesterday - might not take place. But one thing we know is that you're a proud man who doesn't want to leave on the downslide.

So the time has come. It's hard to say you have to prove yourself again, but really, this is no different than when you took that step from being a young catcher with potential to becoming a starter.

This could be a bigger challenge. [...]

One can't help but think, however, that the Red Sox are going to use Bard more than they've used any backup catcher since Varitek came here in that famous 1997 deal from Seattle along with Derek Lowe for Heathcliff Slocumb.

With San Diego last season, Bard was hitting .308 before catching the entire 22-inning 2-1 Padres loss to Colorado April 17. After that game, Bard struggled, hurt his elbow, and ended up hitting .202 for the season. But if healthy, Bard, also a switch-hitter, is an effective lefthanded hitter.

Will the Sox use Bard more in lefthanded-hitting situations? All that manager Terry Francona would hint at was that Varitek may get more rest in day games after night games.


...but it's been several years since he was a decent left-handed hitter while he's kept his right-handed swing throughout. Just stop switch-hitting.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at February 15, 2009 9:36 AM
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