Varitek overwhelmed by "surreal" tribute

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Varitek overwhelmed by "surreal" tribute

BOSTON -- Jason Varitek is quick to admit that hes not fully over his Major League Baseball career being over.

In fact he may never be over it. But that didnt stop the last standing Red Sox captain from fully immersing himself in Jason Varitek Day at Fenway Park, and enjoying all the gifts, standing ovations and thunderous appreciation that officially comes among with retiring as a conquering sports hero in Boston.

It was surreal for me. To absorb what just happened Im going to have to watch it, said Varitek, who was moving around adroitly without the ice bags that always seemed to accompany his battered body during his playing days. I tried to absorb it, but I dont think I could. In my mind Im there and thinking theyre doing this for you and I in turn wanted to say thank you.

Was it weird being on the Fenway Park grass in street clothes and a Sox jersey that had never been worn in the heat of battle?

Its weird. It was the weirdest when I had to retire in spring training, said Varitek. That was the hardest. I just think its different. Instead of preparing youre just in and out. This is a sacred place and a place you appreciate.

I probably never will come to terms with retirement. But Ill be all right.

Varitek said that no teams have approached him about potentially coming out of retirement. He also admitted that coaching or managing is a long-term goal to stay connected within the game of baseball, but hes not quite there yet while still pining for his playing days.

I watch the games. I dont want to detach myself. I do believe that I have some gifts to teach, and to be a part of things in those regards. But its still too early for me to make that decision.

I still have to get a little of that fire and vinegar for playing out of me. Whats most important is getting into my life and family, and being involved with some of the things that I had missed playing. Im enjoying those moments now.

There was an endless supply of gifts for the two-time World Series champ after a memorable, accomplished 15-year run behind the plate for Varitek: David Ortiz presented him with two Fenway grandstand chairs with their numbers on them as a warm-up.

Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz presented Varitek with the Fenway home plate from his final game played behind the dish. The Red Sox presented him with golf clubs and a fully loaded Ford F-150.

Im going to enjoy that car the most, said a laughing Varitek. Youve got to remember Ive got four girls, a wife and two female dogs. Ive got my first man-car.

Then there was more applause and hugs from his three daughters before the Sox played a video montage of his career to You Raise Me Up from Josh Groban. There were video tributes from former teammates Derek Lowe, Bronson Arroyo and Nomar Garciaparra along with in-game video messages from Johnny Damon and Kevin Millar.

Finally Varitek threw the ceremonial first pitch to Tim Wakefield it was a knuckler, no less and did the media rounds while still trying to wrap his mind around saying thank you to Red Sox fans.

How do you say thank you for 15 years? said Varitek. How do you say thank you to a fan base thats been nothing if not supportive of you? A fan base that fit with my style of play because of what they demanded. I wanted to say thank you for that, and it was bothering me.

I had a lot of anxiety and a lot of emotions going into this.

Despite the swirling emotions Varitek managed to keep things in check while his three daughters made cutesy speeches thanking their father, and saved the biggest bear hug for bullpen coachcatching instructor Gary Tuck as he was being driven out toward the gate in center field.

While Jason Varitek Day at Fenway Park officially closed the door on the backstops playing career, one got the feeling the Sox catcher might someday again don the home whites in Boston.

That wouldnt be such a bad thing at all.

Moreland homers again, Red Sox tag A's to avoid four-game sweep

Moreland homers again, Red Sox tag A's to avoid four-game sweep

OAKLAND, Calif. - A five-run ninth inning for the Red Sox that lasted more than a half-hour derailed any chance Eduardo Rodriguez had of getting his first career complete game.

Not that the left-hander was complaining.

After a bitter loss to Oakland a year ago when he allowed just one hit over eight innings, Rodriguez was more than happy with the way things turned out.

Rodriguez earned his second straight win, Mitch Moreland homered in his third consecutive game and Boston beat the Oakland Athletics 12-3 on Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep.

"I wanted to go back out there but they hit the ball pretty good in that inning and I know I had to get out of the game," Rodriguez said about the long wait. "I'll take it because we score more runs, I have a chance to win. If every inning's like that, I'll get out of the game after five."

Rodriguez (3-1) allowed three runs over eight innings. He struck out eight, walked one and retired 14 of his final 15 batters.

"Where he was with the pitch count, it'd be nice for him to go out there for the ninth inning given where he was and how well he was throwing the baseball," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "But at that point you're up nine, probably about a 35-minute inning, didn't want to take any chances."

Hanley Ramirez and Christian Vazquez had three hits apiece to power a Red Sox lineup that tallied 15 hits. Every player in Boston's starting lineup had at least one hit, and eight of the nine drove in runs.

Chad Pinder homered and drove in two runs for Oakland.

Boston, which hasn't been swept in a four-game series since July 2015, trailed 3-2 before scoring 10 runs over the final five innings.

"It felt we had them on the run a little bit," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "They get the lead and then we come back and take the lead again and you feel pretty good. But they were pretty persistent today."

Pinder went deep in the fourth, his fourth home run in eight games and fifth overall.

The A's committed three errors, giving them a major league-leading 42.

BRADLEY'S DEFENSIVE GEMS

Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts gave the A's trouble with his running and defense. Betts scored twice from first base and also made a pair of strong defensive plays. He made a sliding catch on Mark Canha's sinking liner in the eighth and then slammed into the wall after catching Khris' Davis fly to end the inning.

"This place during the daytime plays very difficult," Farrell said. "What Mookie was able to do a couple times in right field, those aren't easy plays. To be able to stay with it, go up against the wall a couple of times, we played very good outfield defense here today."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: Brock Holt continues to deal with lingering symptoms from vertigo and isn't yet ready to come off the disabled list, according to Farrell. Likewise, Boston plans to keep third baseman Pablo Sandoval in the minors to get consistent at-bats while recovering from a right knee sprain. ... Farrell said LHP Drew Pomeranz, who took the loss Saturday, will start against Texas on Thursday.

Athletics: Yonder Alonso (sore left knee) sat out his fourth straight game but could be back in the lineup Tuesday when Oakland begins a two-game series against Miami. ... Sean Doolittle (strained left shoulder) threw on flat ground before making 15 pitches off the mound. The plan is for the former closer to throw 25 pitches on Wednesday. ... Melvin said the team has applied for an extension on Chris Bassitt's rehab assignment. Bassitt underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello (2-5) faces Texas on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series at Fenway Park. Porcello has lost three of his last four decisions.

Athletics: Following an off day, RHP Jesse Hahn (1-3) starts against Miami on Tuesday at the Coliseum. Hahn leads the majors in fewest home runs allowed per nine innings at 0.19.