While I'm not happy that Jason Varitek is retiring, I can acknowledge that it's for the best. For all parties involved. Still, though, it's going to be weird not seeing him suit up every afternoon.
Luckily we still get to keep him as part of the organization. Last season's perceived lack of leadership aside, this is still a man who is greatly respected by the members of the Red Sox roster, and having him around (depending on his role this season) for players to lean on is only going to help this team move on.
Down in Fort Myers, the Globe's Pete Abe talked to some players about Tek's retirement, and the impact he's had on their careers. Here's just a small sampling of some of the things they said:
"I never had a catcher before that I felt like cared more about wanting me to be successful even before he wanted to be successful... He was a guy you could always bounce something off of. It didn't matter what it was, if it was personal stuff, you were pretty confident he was going to be honest with you and try and help you."
"Great teammate. It was fun, it was a good ride being Tek's teammate. There's a lot of moments, a lot of memories involved... Now that he's going to retire, he's the kind of person this organization needs to keep very close. This is a guy, he doesn't nothing but add things, good things. Like I say, it was an honor for me to be his teammate I learned a lot of good things from Tek... Walking in this year and not seeing him, it was like something unexpected."
"He meant a lot. He helped me out a lot last year... Last year was a huge, huge help for getting my career back on track. Just the person he is, you can't find a better person... I could see across the field how people looked at him, how people respected him. You definitely look up to a guy like that... He gave me the confidence back that I needed to be a player. He's just such a special guy, such a special player."
Some players are obviously going to miss Tek more than others (*cough*Beckett*cough*), but his absence in the clubhouse will have a universal impact. It'll be interesting to see if Salty regresses at all without the Captain's guidance. But as Jarrod told Pete, Varitek told him he can come to him at any time. What more can you ask for in a teammate?