Varitek starts his new career with Red Sox


Varitek starts his new career with Red Sox

BOSTON Jason Varitek wants to learn as much as he can in his new role as special assistant to Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington. But the former team captain wouldnt say if he sees managing in his future.No, Im still not . . . if I answer it either way right now, I wouldnt be giving myself the best opportunity, Varitek said in a conference call with reporters Friday morning. Im not in a position to make that a yes or a no at this point.The Sox announced Variteks new role on Thursday. The team planned to hire him in a front-office capacity from the time he announced his retirement in spring training, and -- after Varitek spent his first post-baseball summer with his family -- brought him on board this week.Im just going to be involved in a lot of scenarios to learn things, everything from meetings to player development, to things along those lines, Varitek said. On the catching side I'll be working with some people in the minor leagues and that kind of stuff, but thats a little farther ahead. But right now its just some meetings.Im trying to learn what I dont know and what I can help with and what I need to learn and where, maybe, I fit better to help with. So its a huge gray area where Im trying to learn as much as I can.Varitek, 40, has been part of the Sox organization since 1997, when he was acquired by former GM Dan Duquette at the trading deadline from the Mariners with right-hander Derek Lowe in exchange for Heathcliff Slocumb. Varitek and Lowe went on to be major parts of the 2004 World Series championship team.In addition to winning the World Series in '04 and '07, Varitek is the all-time team leader in postseason games (63) and at-bats (228). He is third in all-time postseason starts (58) and games at catcher (62), behind Jorge Posada (106, 119) and Yogi Berra (61, 63). He was selected as winner of the Jackie Jensen Hustle Award from the Boston Chapter of the BBWAA in 1999, and was the 2006 recipient of the Red Sox Heart and Hustle Award.The Red Sox' struggles over the past few seasons are among the reasons he is coming back to the organization."Its upsetting, more so for the organization, the fan base and what everything has grown to expect in a place like that. The ultimate goal is to get back to that same winning tradition," Varitek said."Thats why you do it. Thats why I never left this organization. Thats why you take part . . . I know a lot of the people still and Im not that far removed that if I can offer some help in some ways, then I want to be able to do it."In 15 major-league seasons with the Sox, Varitek caught a team-record 1,488 games. A three-time All-Star, he hit .256 with 193 home runs and 757 RBI in 1,546 games. He also caught a major league-record four no-hitters. In 2005 he won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger, the first Sox catcher to ever win the batting award.Varitek was named the 18th captain in Sox history when he re-signed with the team on Dec. 24, 2004. A first-round pick (14th overall) of the Mariners in 1994, Varitek is the fourth-longest tenured player in Sox history who never played a major-league game for another team, behind Carl Yastrzemski (23 seasons), Ted Williams (19), and Jim Rice (16).Being away from the game this year for the first time was not easy, he said, but it had some advantages."That's literally a double-edged sword, he said. Yeah, its probably the first Fourth of July I didn't actually play a game. My kids let me know that. As far as, I think I came to rest with it immediately. But did I miss it? Absolutely. So I came to rest with it pretty easy right away."And now, the time was right to take on a new job.I had to get the foundation of my family set up, he said. I was having another child, getting to spend more time with my older children. This is just something we worked on and it just happened to fall later at the end of the summer."

NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945


NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.