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.

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally


Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious.