Varitek eager to share knowledge with Sox players

Varitek eager to share knowledge with Sox players
February 20, 2013, 4:45 pm
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Jason Varitek is still figuring out his duties as special assistant to the general manager, but he's enjoying the ride as he learns.

(USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. --  After the Red Sox morning workout Wednesday, Jason Varitek met with the media, just as he did after a game or workout for the better part of 15 years. The difference this time was the Sox’ former catcher was wearing shorts and a golf shirt, his body not encased in ice packs.
 
Varitek, who retired during spring training last year, has returned to the organization as a special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington. Varitek, like former Sox ace Pedro Martinez, is in camp this week, in uniform, working with the players.

His new role is still a “work in progress,” he said, his duties still evolving. How does he compare his current role to his previous job?
 
“Well, I like the other side better. Playing is . . . you can’t replace it.” he said. “[But] it’s good. it’s good. I’m learning a lot.”
 
Varitek said he shifted to being a fan immediately upon his retirement. He was golfing when the Red Sox opened the season in Detroit last year. But he was able to get the game on his phone, watching from the golf course.
 
But it was hard for him to watch what the team went through last season, as it was mired in chaos and dysfunction.
 
“They went thru a lot, but that’s all behind them,” Varitek said. “They got new faces, new people, new manager, great coaching staff, and can’t really do much about what has happened.  They got to push as a team, an organization, push forward.”
 
His new role allows him to balance his life, staying involved in baseball, but spending time with his family, especially his four children.
 
“I’m enjoying these days of being on the field,” he said. “Because that’s what I’m most accustomed to. But that learning process, there’s a lot of things to be involved with over the next six, eight months.”
 
The best part of his new job, he said, is being able to work with the players, imparting the knowledge he accumulated from a life spent in the game.
 
“That’s the fun part,” he said. “That’s the part that means the game. That’s the part that I love the most. I don’t play. I’m not a player anymore. So if I can pass on things or help someone or be a helpful hand or another sounding board, then that’s what I’ll be.”
 
He’s happy to have Martinez back in the organization’s fold, too.
 
“Pedro has gifts and abilities to pass on that he had, not just psychical ability, but vision and instincts and the ability to see the game,” Varitek said.  “If I’m a pitcher, I want no one to talk about pitching more than Pedro Martinez.”
 
Earlier this week, Martinez said he would like to emulate Sox legends who stayed with the team well past their playing days, citing Jim Rice, Luis Tiant, and Johnny Pesky. Varitek could see himself in such a role.
 
“I would hope so,” he said. “That was the purpose of a lot of what’s gone on. And in my case having the luxury of being able to retire in a uniform. I think it’s hugely important to walk in here every year and know you’ve got Luis around. Louie’s such a huge resource dealing with the pitchers. I remember when we had Derek [Lowe] and Derek was going thru a tough spot, and Luis was watching. He has a keen eye, and said a few things, ‘Alright, let’s just focus and let’s get him down.’ More than anything, that locked Derek in because Luis was more similar to movement and deception and those type things the way he pitched.
 
“So, I love that you have those guys. We need more of them.”