Varitek plans to play beyond 2011

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Varitek plans to play beyond 2011

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Jason Varitek will turn 39 a few weeks into the regular season, an age when most players are eying retirement and the opportunity to relax.

Varitek is about to begin his 14th season with the Red Sox, all of them spent playing a punishing position.

But instead of getting closer to the finish line, Varitek hopes to keep playing. And not just for another season or two.

Asked Sunday if he could picture himself doing what Bob Boone (who played until 42) and Carlton Fisk (active until 45), Varitek didn't hesitate.

"Absolutely,'' he said. "I think once you're done playing, there's no making a comeback. If my body holds up and I'm able to do the things I can still do, I'll play as long I can.

"If I start compromising my livelihood for my kids and stuff later in life, then I've got to start questioning things. If I'm not putting myself in a competitive spot to help a team win, then I have to question things again.

"But . . . is that what I envision? Yes, that's what I envision . . . You can only play this game for so long and as long as your body holds out and you can be productive and do things. I love playing.''

This could be viewed as the second season of the rest of Varitek's career. Last year, for the first time since 2001, when he broke his elbow, Varitek didn't play at least 100 games, and while he missed time with a broken foot, that had little to do with injuries.

The Sox went with Victor Martinez as their primary catcher and Varitek was relegated to a backup spot. He embraced the role without complaint and, especially early in the season, hit well. When Varitek injured his foot in June, he had an OPS of .871, a way-more-than-respectable number for a 38-year-old catcher.

After rehabbing his foot, Varitek came back in September and was entirely out of rhythm at the plate, collecting just one hit in his final 17 at-bats.

Still, what Varitek took away from last year was the passion he still has for the game. The skills, he showed in the first half, are still there, too, as long as he's not overworked.

He would, of course, prefer to play more. But in time, he learned how to make the transition to backup.

"Accepted or embraced it, I think theres two different things because things can change in a hurry on one end,'' he said. "You cant not not be prepared. Just like Vic Martinez last year hitting his thumb, you got to be ready now right in the middle of that game. So accepting is different than embracing it. I think embracing whatever role that you have for the betterment of this team and trying to do what we want to do is win another championship.''

As Varitek recounted, the transition actually began the year before when Martinez, obtained at the July 31 trade deadline, became the de-facto starter behind the plate.

"I had a good month to two months of being in that role in 2009,'' he said, "It was at a different situation than it might have been having the ability to prepare for it, for winter, for spring training, etc. I think that was harder than it was doing it.

"But then I needed to learn what I need to do to stay sharp. That still will be a work in progress because I think we did a lot. We did things with catching instructor Gary Tuck and did things with hitting coach Dave Magadan that allowed that at different times. It allowed me to be a little more free and active on the bench and those type things.''

This season, Varitek will serve as the backup and mentor to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, with whom he's highly impressed. A number of veteran pitchers have already remarked that Saltalamacchia's personality and style remind them of Varitek himself.

"Salty's going to be Salty,'' said Varitek. "Hopefully, he's not living with constant comparisons. I believe Salty is his own person and he's going be his own player. And he's extremely talented. I don't know if I had those abilities that he has when I was that young and breaking in.

"Yeah, we're both big catchers, we switch-hit, strong-armed throwers and love to play the game. But his work ethic and the things he's shown are the reason we've been able to create a bond right away.''

Varitek urges patience with Saltalamacchia and a chance to learn from his growing pains.

"We may see him great early in the season,'' he said, "or we may see him not-so-great early. But he's going to be a good player - no two ways about it. He's too gifted and works too hard not to be.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Youkilis weighs in on Valentine possibly being Japan ambassador

Youkilis weighs in on Valentine possibly being Japan ambassador

Among the reactions to the news that Bobby Valentine was possibly being considered to be the US amassador to Japan in President Donald Trump’s administration was this beauty from Kevin Youkilis. 

Valentine famously called out Youkilis early in his stormy tenure as Red Sox manager in 2012. Remember? "I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason," Bobby V said of Youk at the time. 

The Red Sox traded Youkilis to the White Sox for two not-future Hall of Famers, outfielder Brent Lillibridge and right-hander Zach Stewart, later that season.

Youkilis, now Tom Brady’s brother-in-law by the way, had a 21-game stint playing in Japan in 2014 before retiring from baseball. 

 

Report: Bobby Valentine could be Trump’s US ambassador to Japan

Report: Bobby Valentine could be Trump’s US ambassador to Japan

Major league manager. Inventor of the wrap sandwich. Champion ballroom dancer.  And…

US ambassador to Japan?

Bobby Valentine is on the short list for that position in President Donald Trump’s administration, according to a WEEI.com report.

The former Red Sox manager (fired after a 69-93 season and last-place finish in 2012), and ex-New York Mets and Texas Rangers, skipper, also managed the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons. 

When asked by the New York Daily News if he's being considered for the post, Valentine responded: "I haven't been contacted by anyone on Trump's team." 

Would he be interested?

"I don't like to deal in hypotheticals," Valentine told the Daily News.

Valentine, 66, has known the President-elect and Trump's brother Bob since the 1980s, is close to others on Trump’s transition team and has had preliminary discussions about the ambassador position, sources told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. 

Valentine, currently the athletic director of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., is also friendly with current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who, like Valentine, attended the University of Southern California.