Picard: An example of why Varitek was a man of respect


Picard: An example of why Varitek was a man of respect

There's a time and a place for everything. And Jason Varitek has decided the time and place for his retirement will be Thursday in Fort Myers.

Every Red Sox fan knows the captain's story.

I just thought I'd share one more.

It was a Tuesday night at Fenway Park in April 2010, one of the first Red Sox games I ever covered. It was the night Darnell McDonald -- on the same day he was called up from the minors -- won it with a walkoff single in the bottom of the ninth, after he'd hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer that tied the score in the bottom of the eighth. It was also the night the Red Sox battery of Tim Wakefield and Victor Martinez allowed nine stolen bases in five innings, extending the team's streak of consecutive steals allowed to 29.

McDonald was the story of the night, obviously. But my assignment was the stolen bases.

Varitek -- who replaced Martinez in the top of the eighth, after Martinez was pinch-run for in the bottom of the seventh -- sat in his chair, facing his locker, following the game. The postgame scrum was elsewhere, and he was alone.

The way I looked at it, he was the captain. If there was something going so badly wrong with an aspect of the team's performance that his position was involved in, he would have the answer.

So I looked at my colleague, Sean McAdam, and asked him if it was cool to approach Varitek.

I was new to the Red Sox clubhouse. But I'd been there often enough to know that it certainly wasn't the Bruins dressing room. Anyone and everyone in a hockey dressing room is approachable.

Sean looked at Varitek, looked back at me, and gave the okay.

I was only 10 feet away. But the walk felt like an entire lap around Castle Island.

By the time I got there, I was already regretting the decision. But there was no retreating at that point.

There was so much I could have done. I could have introduced myself. I could have told him I was a lifelong standing-room, season-ticket holder at Fenway Park. I could have told him I'll always remember exactly where I was when he stiff-armed Alex Rodriguez in 2004. All to start the conversation on a more pleasant note.

Instead, I hit the record button on my tape recorder and asked him about the nine stolen bases.

To be honest, I don't remember exactly what he responded with. I just know it wasn't good enough to fill my only story of the night.

So I asked him again, wording the question differently.

He turned left and slightly upward, making eye contact with me for the first time. He gave the same type of generic response. Only this time, his tone was far more aggressive, and the look on his face was far less pleasant. He punctuated his response with "Period. End of question." I thanked him for his time and retreated.

Just several days earlier, Terry Francona had laughed in my face and called me out for the way I'd asked what, otherwise, would have been a fair question, completely and unnecessarily embarrassing me. With Francona, I swallowed my pride, plopped myself in the front row the very next night, and asked him second question of the press conference. I got right back on the horse.

But now it had happened again. It bothered me.

Maybe Varitek saw it in my face. Or maybe he simply felt bad about the way he responded. In any case, 20 minutes later -- as I stood on the other side of the Red Sox clubhouse -- I felt a hand come down on my shoulder.

There was Varitek -- arm wrapped heavily with ice -- apologizing for the way he reacted to my questions.

Like his answer to those questions, I don't remember today exactly what he said. I just know he went out of his way to walk over to the other side of the clubhouse and offered a sincere apology.

There was no camera on him. There were no lights or microphones in his face. Nobody was going to put this in their postgame notebook.

Despite his frustration with my negative questions, Varitek knew I was just doing my job. And whether he agreed with the line of questioning or not, he probably could tell by the look on my face that he'd left me somewhat rattled.

It was the first and only time a professional athlete has gone out of his way to offer an apology for something that -- let's face it -- he never really had to apologize for.

I would have got over it. And so would he.

But Varitek was captain of the Red Sox for a reason. On that April night in 2010, I got a glimpse of that reason.

Buchholz doesn't have much to say about move to bullpen


Buchholz doesn't have much to say about move to bullpen

Clay Buchholz' reaction to losing his spot in the Red Sox rotation and being moved to the bullpen was quick and to the point on Saturday.

According to reporters in Toronto, including Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, Buchholz muttered only "I got [expletive] moved to the bullpen. You can write it down."

Manager John Farrell announced before the game Friday that the move would be made. Farrell told reporters Saturday that Buchholz, who last pitched Thursday night, volunteered to pitch in relief on Saturday, but the earliest he'll come out of the bullpen would likely be Sunday. 


Saturday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups - Ortiz returns


Saturday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups - Ortiz returns

David Ortiz is back in the starting lineup after a night off and Chris Young is in left field for the Red Sox in the second game of their three-game weekend series in Toronto.

The Blue Jays won the opener 7-5 behind two home runs from Josh Donaldson. Rick Porcello (7-2, 3.47 ERA) is on the mound for the Red Sox, opposed by the Blue Jays' Marcus Stroman (5-1, 3.89).

The lineups: 

Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Travis Shaw 3B
Chris Young LF
Christian Vazquez C
Rick Porcello RHP

Jose Bautista RF
Josh Donaldson 3B
Edwin Encarnacion DH
Michael Saunders LF
Justin Smoak 1B
Russell Martin C
Devon Travis 2B
Darwin Barney SS
Kevin Pillar CF
Marcus Stroman LHP 

Knighton not worried about Deflategate: 'We have enough on our plate'


Knighton not worried about Deflategate: 'We have enough on our plate'

FOXBORO -- Patriots defensive tackle Terrance Knighton has been on three different teams since the Deflategate controversy was sparked on the night of the AFC title game in 2015. But that doesn't mean he's immune to receiving questions about Tom Brady's ongoing saga. 

Meeting with reporters after Thursday's OTA session, Knighton was asked if he was surprised by the buzz that still surrounds Brady's legal situation. Earlier in the week, Brady filed a petition for a rehearing to have his four-game suspension overturned, and the Patriots organization filed an amicus brief backing their quarterback.

"All I was thinking about that year was losing to the Colts," said Knighton, who was a member of the Broncos two seasons ago. "I wasn't really worried about what was going on. I don't really feed into that. I just try to handle what I have to do in the building. We have enough on our plate as it is. That'll handle itself. 'Terrance Knighton' is not anywhere in the documents so it doesn't have anything to do with me."

As was the case during last preseason, with Deflategate hearings hanging over Brady's head, the Patriots quarterback didn't appear at all distracted by the continuing proceedings. He went 9-for-14 in 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 periods during Thursday's practice, working with a group of offenive weapons that was without tight end Rob Gronkowski and receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. 

Knighton said on Thursday that Brady has ben equally impressive off the field in the short time he's been able to spend with the future Hall of Famer. 

"[Conversations hav been] a little bit about our past playing against each other, me getting the better of him, him getting the better of me," Knighton said. "He's won that matchp more times than I have, but it's always good to be around guys like that, pick their brain and see what type of professional they are.

"Playing with a Peyton Manning and a Demarcus Ware, you learn a lot from those guys, Hall of Famers. I'm just trying tp pick [Brady's] brain, and just watch him out of the corner of my eye, and see how he prepares and how me moves around."