Varitek's future plans; new Sox DP combo

February, 28, 2010
Today’s Red Sox stories from Gordon Edes and Joe McDonald from Fort Myers, Fla.:

* Edes: Varitek won’t rule out playing 4-5 more seasons

Turns out that was anything but idle chatter, bullpen coach Gary Tuck's remark Friday that catcher Jason Varitek is capable of playing four or five more seasons.

"I've defied odds before," Varitek said Saturday morning when Tuck's comments were relayed to him. "You never know."

There was even less ambiguity in his answer when asked if he wanted to extend his career as far as it would go.

"Absolutely," he said, and in case his questioner wasn't paying attention, he repeated, "Absolutely."

Varitek turns 38 on April 11. Only one catcher, Carlton Fisk, has caught as many as 50 games past the age of 42. The Hall of Famer retired at the age of 45.

Could Varitek see himself lasting as long as Fisk?

"Let's get to 40 first," he said. "Get through this, see how things change for me, see how my health will be. When I'm healthy and keep my strength, some things can be good. There are things that are not in my control, but as long as I'm healthy ..."

* McDonald: Tall expectations at short for Scutaro

With Scutaro in the mix, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia will have a consistent double-play partner. When asked how long he thinks it will take for the middle infielders to get comfortable with one another, Francona was quick with his answer.

"Very easily and very quickly," he said. "We've seen Pedey, a lot, and now we're seeing Marco go about his business. He's pretty good, and there's a reason why he's here. It's nice, though, to see it in person. We've seen him from across the other dugout, but when you do drills, and if you ask Pedey, already it's been very seamless."

Pedroia said the relationship with his new shortstop is already a solid one, and the two expect to work very well together.

"It's been great. He's a communicator, like me, and that's important," said Scutaro. "He's a special player. How he does some of the things he does, I don't know how he does it. You wouldn't teach kids to do it that way."

Having a strong presence up the middle will help the pitchers' confidence, too. Too many times last season a ground ball would find its way through the left side of the infield, which must have been very frustrating for the staff.

"It's great," said Red Sox ace Josh Beckett about the new combination. "It gives you that extra confidence to make that 2-1 pitch where it doesn't have to be perfect because you know we have guys who are going to catch the ball. It's not that we haven't had that in the past, just to have guys you are really, really confident in is a comfortable feeling."

Fellow ace Jon Lester agrees.

"I don't think it changes from year to year," said Lester. "These guys are in the big leagues for a reason, regardless of who's back there. We've kind of had a rotating door at short, but everybody who has played, I've felt comfortable with and you're confident they're going to make the plays. Obviously, we've made some improvements this year."

If there's one player in the majors who knows Scutaro the best, and how his abilities will help improve the Red Sox, it's his former long-term teammate, and current Toronto infielder, John McDonald.



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