Players react to Varitek retirement news

February, 28, 2012
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When pitchers and catchers reported to Red Sox spring training earlier this month and Jason Varitek was not in camp, it was a strange feeling.

Even though most players thought the captain would retire, they still had a feeling he could walk through that clubhouse door at some point. Varitek will be at JetBlue Park at Fenway South on Thursday -- to announce his retirement after 15 seasons with the Red Sox.

[+] EnlargeJosh Beckett and Jason Varitek
AP Photo/Dave MartinJosh Beckett said he'd never had a catcher "who cared about wanting me to be successful" than Jason Varitek.
“Great teammate,” Red Sox DH David Ortiz said Tuesday morning. “It was fun. It was a good ride being Tek’s teammate. There are a lot of memories involved.”

Ortiz and Varitek won two World Series titles in Boston and were teammates from 2003-2011. Now Varitek is retiring a member of the Red Sox, something Ortiz also hopes to achieve.

“Tek is somebody, I think, this organization is going to need forever, especially now that he’s going to retire,” Ortiz said. “He’s the kind of person this organization needs to keep very close because this guy does nothing but add things, good things. It was an honor for me to be his teammate. I learned a lot of good things from Tek, but the most important thing was hard work.

“His preparation was so good, it was ridiculous. He was a guy that, as long as I watched him play, he wanted to do well, he wanted to be prepared for that.

“Hopefully he feels good about it. Hopefully he’s being honest with himself,” added Ortiz. “Man, I going to miss him.”

Down at the other end of the clubhouse Tuesday morning, the pitchers were all ready to wax poetic about Varitek. Red Sox starter Josh Beckett always said he was at his best when Varitek was his batterymate. Varitek caught 905 of Beckett’s career innings, far and away the most by any catcher.

“We’re still going to be friends,” Beckett said. “Obviously he’s not going to be catching me this year. I hope he’s happy with his decision. I think it’s a tough one to make. [Wakefield] did it earlier and I think it’s cool they did it the same year and I hope they’re both OK with their decisions.

“I loved working with him. I’ve never had a catcher, before [Varitek], who cared about wanting me to be successful, even before he wanted to be successful. He’s going to be missed a lot in the clubhouse and on the field.”

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Joe McDonald

ESPN Staff Writer



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