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."
CINCINNATI - Mitch Moreland ended his long slump with a three-run homer, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning, and the Boston Red Sox took another step toward a second straight AL East title, beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-0 on Saturday.
Boston has won 13 of 16, holding off the Yankees as it tries to win back-to-back East titles for the first time since divisional realignment in 1969. The Red Sox have their best record of the season at 90-64, reaching 90 wins for the second year in a row.
They remain four games in front of the Yankees, who beat Toronto 5-1.
Moreland was in an 0-for-19 slump when he connected off Robert Stephenson (5-6) in the sixth inning, his 20th homer of the season but only his second in September. The Red Sox are last in the AL with 160 homers.
Rodriguez (6-6) has given up two or fewer earned runs in each of his last four starts, the best stretch of his career. The left-hander gave up three singles and two walks in 7 2/3 innings, his longest outing since May 21.
The Red Sox have shutout victories in three of their last four games, including two at Baltimore. They are 7-1 on a trip that ends Sunday. Boston wraps up the regular season at Fenway Park with three games against Toronto and four against Houston.
Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who grew up in suburban Madeira and had hundreds of relatives and friends in the stands for the series, singled home a run in the seventh at the ballpark where he regularly attended games as a youth.
Mookie Betts, who fouled a ball off his left foot Friday night, and Dustin Pedroia, who has been bothered by a knee injury almost all season, were out of the Red Sox lineup Saturday against the Reds in Cincinnati.
Chris Young started in right field for Betts and Brock Holt at second base for Pedroia.
Betts was scratched from the original lineup but was a late scratch. Pedroia, who had been getting intermittent days off to rest his knee was originally expected to play but needed treatement and hopes to be able to play Sunday, according to Scott Lauber of ESPN.
Manager John Farrell told reporters, including Christopher Smith of MassLive.com, that Betts "was hindered by it last night in the second half of that game. [He] woke up a little bit more sore. Went through treatment. But felt it was best to give him a day to fully recover and get some additional treatment."
The manager added that Betts was available to pinch hit Saturday and did not have X-rays, but that step could be taken if there's no improvement in the next 24 hours.