Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here... highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
When the Red Sox signed veteran catcher Kelly Shoppach in December, it effectively ended Jason Varitek’s 15-year run with the team and ultimately his career.
But whatever you do, don’t suggest that Shoppach is replacing the longtime captain.
“No, I’m not,” Shoppach said yesterday, even as Varitek prepares to announce his retirement tomorrow in a ceremony at the Red Sox’ new spring training complex. “I just happened to be in the same position on this roster.”
“Things that will be different are not on-the-field things,” Shoppach said, acknowledging that Varitek’s leadership is irreplaceable. “But they asked me to come do a job, and it’s my responsibility to give it everything I’ve got. That’s all I can do. I can’t worry about anything else.”
You have to feel a little bit for Shoppach here. He effectively forced Red Sox all-time great and fan favorite Jason Varitek into retirement.
It's not his fault. That's how the situation was going to play out regardless of whether the Sox signed him or someone else; but that's the hand he's been dealt. And now he has to deal with the "How are you going to fill the Captain's shoes" questions, for at least the next couple days.
Not that the expectations are that high for Shoppach. Nor would they have been for Varitek. Salty is the every day catcher. He's the guy that is going ot have to produce from the catcher position. Shoppach and his .115 average against righties will only see action when the Sox face a left-handed pitcher. And when he does suit up, we simply want him to call a solid game and get a timely hit or two. And if he can continue to mentor Saltalamacchia and build upon his 2011 campaign, well that's just gravy.
But one thing that Scott Lauber makes clear in the above article is that Shoppach does not come from the Jason Varitek school of catching. During his brief time with the Sox, Kelly doesn't seem to have interacted with Varitek at all. This is neither a good nor bad thing, but if your expectation is that we're getting a Jason Varitek clone, you will be disappointed. But there's enough veteran leadership on this team that we don't need another Tek.
Just a backup catcher who isn't awful. The jury is certainly still out on that.
On Page 2, what the hell happened to Albert Belle?
Albert Belle visited the Cleveland Indians at Spring Training today. Albert Belle retired 10 years ago. Albert Belle will be 46 in August. Albert Belle does not look like a guy who played during my lifetime. Just look at that picture of Belle with Sandy Alomar Jr. (45), Carlos Baerga (43), Mike Hargrove (62) and Kenny Lofton (44). Belle looks more likely to have played in Cleveland with Hargrove in the early 80′s than with those other guys in the 90′s.
Big League Sports - Albert Belle Has Not Aged as Gracefully as The Rest of the 90′s Indians
What has Albert Belle been doing with his life since he left baseball? Seriously, I want to know. I want to make sure I steer clear of every single thing he's ever done that could cause the man to look 10 years older than 62-year old Mike Hargrove.
Yikes! Take it easy, Albert.
And how is Kenny Lofton going to look exactly the same way he did 20 years ago? I bet he could still steal 3rd if you put him back out on the diamond.
Rest of the links:
Herald - Sox trio has some Hall of Fame traits | High Five for the Captain | Jason Varitek put stamp on two titles | CSNNE - Felger to Francona: 'Stir the poop pile' | Globe - Why aren't these fans in Valentine's camp? | Praise piled on Varitek's plate | WEEI - Cherington on D&C: Sox a 'motivated group' | What Jacoby Ellsbury's unprecedented breakout year means for his Red Sox future | Duquette: Trade 'perfect opportunity' for 'Tek