Red Sox still want to talk with Varitek


Red Sox still want to talk with Varitek

BOSTON When the Red Sox signed free agent catcher Kelly Shoppach Tuesday, it appeared the acquisition tolled the death knell for Jason Variteks tenure in Boston. Varitek, a free agent who turns 40 in April, has spent his entire 15-season big league career in a Sox uniform.

But, maybe the end is not near for Varitek and the Sox.

We have incredible respect for 'Tek, said general manager Ben Cherington. I have incredible respect for Tek on a personal level. We as an organization and ownership, have incredible respect for him and the contributions hes made. And I think our hope is that 'Tek will always be a part of the Red Sox in some way. As far as what this means immediately, what we want to do is keep talking with 'Tek and not discuss that in a public forum. But well have an opportunity to keep talking to 'Tek and his agent Scott Boras and figure out whats best for the Red Sox, best for him and we look forward to doing that.

Shoppach, who turns 32 in April, is returning to the Sox after being traded before the 2006 season in a seven-player deal with the Indians that brought center fielder Coco Crisp to Boston. He was with the Indians for four seasons, playing the past two with the Rays.

Shoppach, a right-handed batter, is a career .224 hitter, with a .315 on-base percentage, .417 slugging percentage, 59 home runs, and 180 RBI. In 87 games with the Rays last season, he hit .176.268.3391122.

He has thrown out 28.2 percent of would-be basestealers in his career (73 of 285), and lead the American League in 2011, catching 40.9 percent of attempted base stealers.

We obviously know Shop well, Cherington said. And as we went into the offseason we felt like there was a couple of things that were important to us with regards to the catching position. One was to continue to find ways to help in the running game and help control the running game, which was an area of concern of ours last year. Shops been able to help the pitching staff control the running game pretty consistently throughout his career. Hes also a guy that has consistently hit left-hand pitching and that sort of fits in as a compliment to switch-hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

And we also felt like, we felt like in a perfect world we would look to solidify the catching position by adding strength to that area and not necessarily counting on Ryan Lavarnway going into spring training. That said, we really think highly of Ryan. We think Hes going to be a really good player for us in the future. So we just feel like Shop helps us strengthen the position overall and helps complement Salty.

Brady, Harbaugh found common ground on plane ride back from Michigan

Brady, Harbaugh found common ground on plane ride back from Michigan

FOXBORO -- What could have been an awkward plane ride for Tom Brady and John Harbaugh was made less so thanks to a high school lacrosse player. 

Brady and Harbaugh shared a private plane back from Michigan where Jim Harbaugh and his University of Michigan program put on an event for National Signing Day. About a year earlier, Brady told a room full of reporters that Harbaugh and his coaching staff should study the rule book and "figure it out" after hearing that they were pretty upset about the unusual formations the Patriots ran during their AFC Divisional Round win over Baltimore. 

They may not have been on the best of terms.

"I was pissed off," he told ESPN's Ian O'Connor before the start of this season. "It was uncalled for. And the rules are deeper than that, and I know the rules, and I stand by why that play shouldn't have been allowed. ... So yeah, that should never have been said."

But on the flight was Harbaugh's daughter Alison, a high school lacrosse player. When Brady took some time to share a few thoughts on competitiveness with her, he and Harbaugh found common ground.

"We had a lot of fun," Harbaugh said of the flight. "I don't know if he's talked about that at all, but we ended up sharing a plane ride along with my daughter and a couple of his people, friends of his. We just had a chance to just talk for a couple hours. And really more than anything, Alison got a chance to listen to Tom Brady talk about competing and what it takes to be great at what you do.

"And one of the funny things about it was, he was so nice to her. He gets off and they go, and we get back on the plane and we're talking, and she says something like, 'Boy, Tom really is a nice guy.' And I look at here and go, 'Tom?' I'm thinking 'Mr. Brady' would have been more appropriate. She said, 'He said to call me Tom.' I got a kick out of that.

"It was good. Lot of respect for him and a lot of respect for what he's accomplished. He's very tough to compete against. The best quarterback that's played, certainly in this era, without question in my mind. That's how I would rank him. And it's just another tough challenge to have to play against him."

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan didn't get a chance to answer one question in his postgame interview before being interrupted by Kyle Lowry, Jared Sullinger, and LeGarrette Blount.