Current Red Sox laud Varitek on his day of honor

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Current Red Sox laud Varitek on his day of honor

It might feel like the third time that Jason Varitek is being honored by the Red Sox for a highly decorated career in Boston.

But the last standing Sox captain finally gets his own day of recognition at Fenway Park prior to Saturdays tilt against the Toronto Blue Jays, and a grateful Red Sox Nation gets a chance to laud their stalwart backstop one last time. The current Sox squad could probably use an in-his-prime Varitek for his steadfast clubhouse presence and ability to wrangle his pitching staff into a strike-throwing force.

Or a mans man as current Sox manager Bobby Valentine called him during Saturdays pregame media session.

The pregame ceremonies to honor Varitek will begin at 6:30 pm and should be similar in scope and structure to the day honoring Tim Wakefield earlier this season.

Theres no doubt both Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz remember Varitek fondly his the no-hitters he caught behind the plate for each hurler, but Sox designated hitter David Ortiz remembers him as the guy that held everything together. Hell be most fondly remembered by the media and fans as the no-frills captain and the guy that fed Alex Rodriguez a leather sandwich, but Big Papi thinks of much more.

Hes legendary; a lot of great success and a great career. Hes a good friend of mine. I saw the ceremony he went through in spring training and it was very emotional, said Ortiz, before breaking into a laugh and adding. Hes the kind of guy that wants to be a tough guy until you get behind closed doors.

It was Ortiz that earlier this season called together a team meeting and basically told the pitching staff to get things into gear, and the designated hitter learned that kind of leadership by watching the switch-hitting catcher.

When a ceremony like that goes down you do what youre supposed to. He gave it all for this organization, and Im proud of him, said Ortiz. He did his business very well. I caught on to a lot of things over the years being around him and watching him do his thing.

For guys like Buchholz and Lester, it was much more of a mentorstudent relationship in the early days that formed into the kind of tight bond thats unique to starting pitchers and their battery-mates. Varitek finished as the Sox all-time leading catchers in games played (1,488) and years of service (15), and was a two-time World Series champion along with the four career no-hitters caught.

But for the pitchers it was much more about the fingers he put down pitch after pitch in those daily battles. Now its about the pride theyll be feeling when the intense competitor is standing out on the Fenway field enjoying a half-hour ceremony celebrating his great career in Boston.

He was obviously a great baseball player. Somebody you want on your team and somebody you want in your clubhouse, said Lester. Its one of those deals where I was very fortunate to come up in this organization when I did. I learned a lot from him. He helped me out early in my career, and he helped a lot of guys out.

After my first year I got the courage to talk to him. I think sometimes he got lost in those scouting reports and wouldnt talk to anybody. Once you got past that initial fear that he was going to rip your head off you realized he was just one of us.

It speaks quite a bit to the legacy of Varitek that his former teammates speak so glowingly of their former leader, and perhaps there is a pang of wishing things could once again be as they were on Yawkey Way when he helped steer the ship. Instead the Sox continue to search for consistent answers within their current roster of 25 players, and continue to embrace the ghosts of World Series glory past.

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox 5, Angels 4

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Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox 5, Angels 4

Quotes, Notes and Stars of the Red Sox’ 5-4 win over the Angels

Quotes

"It's a joke. That's a brutal call for whoever's back in New York looking at it.'' - Mike Scioscia on decision not to cite fan interference on ground-rule double in the ninth.

"We played with 26 players tonight. I was like, 'Yes!''' - David Ortiz on the fan who touched Daniel Nava's double.

"If I had to go back and do it all over again, I probably would have just thrown a knuckleball. I didn't want to walk a guy, but I've got to think about the bigger picture and just swallow the walk.'' - Steven Wright, on the fastball thrown to C.J. Cron, who hit a grand slam.

Notes

* David Ortiz moved into 19th place all-time in home runs with No. 522, breaking a tie with Willie McCovey, Frank Thomas and Ted Williams.

* Ortiz collected his 2,000th hit as a member of the Red Sox, something only six other players in history have accomplished.

* Ortiz also passed Thomas in career RBI with 1,704, good for 23rd place.

* Ortiz extended his Fenway hitting streak to 18 games. He's reached base at home in every home game since April 29.

* Steven Wright has allowed just six homers all season, but three have come in the last four games. Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts became the first Red Sox teammates to record 100 hits each before the team's 81st game since 1988 when four players did so - Wade Boggs, Dwight Evans, Mike Greenwell and Marty Barrett.

* The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Red Sox against the Angels.

* The game marked the 47th time in first 79 games that the Sox have collected 10 or more hits. That leads the majors, with Kansas City and Detroit next at 39.

* The Sox are 23-9 in Brock Holt's starts.

Stars

1) David Ortiz

Ortiz had a three-hit game with two singles and a homer, the last of which was his 2,000th hit in a Red Sox uniform. The homer also was career home run No. 522, moving him past three Hall of Famers into 19th place all-time.

2) Brock Holt

Holt announced his presence loud and clear with two doubles, two runs scored, an RBI and an assist from the outfield.

3) C.J. Cron

Cron made things mighty interesting with one swing of the bat in the sixth, driving a ball into the Monster Seats for a grand slam that brought the Angels back to within a run.

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam

First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-4 win over the Angels

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First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-4 win over the Angels

First Impressions from the Boston Red Sox' 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels

* John Farrell faced a tough call with Steven Wright in the sixth.

Wright doesn't fare well in wet weather, as the Red Sox learned earlier this season when he tried to pitch in a steady rain against Houston. With a downpour, Wright wasn't able to grip his signature knuckler, and the results showed.

In the fifth and into the sixth, the rain was picking up. By the start of the sixth, the rain intensified, and Wright began to struggle. He allowed a leadoff double to Albert Pujols, hit Jefry Marte and walked Daniel Nava to load the bases.

Farrell had Matt Barnes warming, but the manager was clearly trying to get his starter through the sixth and limit the bullpen workload, having gone to the pen in the third inning Monday and the seventh inning Wednesday.

The move backfired when C.J. Cron hit a grand slam. Wright has been terrific this season, but his inability to pitch when there's any rain at all creates a unique challenge for his manager.

* Brock Holt made his presence felt right away.

Holt missed more than a month with a concussion, and admitted before Friday's game that he still wasn't 100 percent recovered.

But that hardly seemed the case Friday night. In the field, Holt fielded a line drive in the corer by C.J. Cron and fired a strike to second, cutting down Cron attempting to stretch a single into a double.

At the plate, meanwhile, Holt clubbed two doubles to left.

Holt used that same inside-out swing both times to take pitches the other way, expertly using the Wall and Fenway to his advantage.

For the past week, the Red Sox were shuffling a few outfielders, none of whom had had much experience -- or success -- at the big league level. Even if he's not 100 percent and can't be counted on every day yet, Holt could provide a nice jolt to the bottom third of the order.

* Ortiz continues to pile up records.

His solo homer in the fifth - a line shot that curled past the right field foul pole, into the box seats -- was No. 522 of his career. That enabled Ortiz to move past three Hall of Famers: Willie McCovey, Frank Thomas and Ted Williams -- with one swing.

Ortiz had been tied with the trio in 19th place for most career homers.

The homer also marked his 2,000th hit with the Red Sox. He became the seventh player to amass 2,000 hits in a Red Sox uniform. The others: Williams,  Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, Bobby Doerr and Wade Boggs.

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam