Sox keep Beckett-Varitek tandem intact

April, 21, 2011
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Jason Varitek will start back-to-back games at catcher for the first time this season Thursday, as manager Terry Francona said he prefers to keep Varitek behind the plate with Josh Beckett.

Varitek will be making his fourth start in the last six games, even though he has just one hit in 20 at-bats with six strikeouts so far this season. He had a rough afternoon in Oakland on Wednesday, striking out twice (the first time in a strike-'im-out, throw-'im-out double play) and grounding into an double play. Both double plays ended innings in which the Sox had runners on first and third.

"He told me yesterday, 'I will get a hit right-handed,'" Francona said. "He's a little bit sluggish right now. But we're shaking hands at the end of the game [signifying a win]. He did enough.''

With Varitek behind the plate, Beckett has allowed just one earned run in 15 innings, striking out 19, in dominating wins over the Yankees and Blue Jays.

Francona said he plans to use both Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia twice in this series, with Varitek also drawing Daisuke Matsuzaka on Saturday. He said he is mindful of not placing too big a workload on the 39-year-old catcher.

"That's something we need to think about,'' he said. "But he's not 70. He works hard at being in good shape.''

Francona is also leaving Carl Crawford in the No. 7 hole, even though the Angels are starting a right-hander, rookie Tyler Chatwood.

"We appreciate the way he is going about this,'' Francona said. "The results haven't been there, but he's working hard. He's OK. He'll get hot and get to his level.''

Here are the lineups:


J.D. Drew, rf
Dustin Pedroia, 2b
Adrian Gonzalez, 1b
Kevin Youkilis, 3b
David Ortiz, DH
Jed Lowrie, ss
Carl Crawford, lf
Jason Varitek, c
Jacoby Ellsbury, cf


Maicer Izturis, 3b
Howie Kendrick, 2b
Bobby Abreu, DH
Torii Hunter, rf
Vernon Wells, lf
Hank Conger, c
Mark Trumbo, 1b
Erick Aybar, ss
Peter Bourjos, cf
Tyler Chatwood, rhp

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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