“This last week,” Varitek said, pausing for nearly 20 seconds to compose himself, “is probably one of the hardest weeks you go through as a player. After months of deliberating what to do, I decided that it’s best for me and my family that I retire — that I retire a Red Sox. This decision wasn’t something I took lightly in any sense of the word, nor did I want to do it more than once. This has probably been the most difficult decision I’ve had to make in my career, but the opportunity to start and finish my major-league career in one place meant more to me, and that’s why I’m standing here today.”
“The hardest thing to do is to walk away from your teammates and what they’ve meant to you over the years,” Varitek said after another lengthy pause. “As I walk away from this game, I can look at the man in the mirror and be proud I gave everything I could to this game, this organization, my teammates.”
During a 20-minute ceremony, Varitek thanked several former coaches and ex-Red Sox managers Jimy Williams, Grady Little and Terry Francona. He credited Williams with helping instill confidence that he could play every day in the majors, and he expressed gratitude to Francona for “allowing me to sail next to you and captain your ship.” And Varitek made special mention of Red Sox catching coach Gary Tuck.
Like Wakefield, you have to tip your cap to a guy that would rather leave the game entirely than suit up for a team outside of Boston, regardless of the number of opportunities that actually existed.
There's not a ton left to say about Tek, or his retirement. Many people feel this announcement is about two years too late, but I disagree. As a batter, maybe. Although he did have a few solid months at the plate last season.
As a catcher, handling his staff, he was still one of the best in the game. Josh Beckett and his 2011 stat sheet can attest to that. But more than his immediate impact on the game, having Tek around to mentor Saltalamacchia was worth any dip in production we had to suffer through. Salty revived his failing career last season, giving much of the credit to Varitek. Sure, it's possible he could have found his game if Tek was never around, but we don't live in the hypothetical world.
After all the amazing things Tek did on the field, his last gift very well may be leaving the Sox with a competent catcher that they can rely on for the next several years. That's something that didn't look possible 12 months ago.
On Page 2, don't talk to Papi about hanging it up
"You know what? I tell people a couple more years just to make them feel good and they don't think you plan on playing this game until you're on crutches," the Red Sox designated hitter said. "But as long as I feel good and I can swing the bat well I want to keep on playing. What better life is there?"
"I don't think about it but I know one day it will show up," Ortiz said. "That's something you don't think about until you're walking into it. I know one day it will be like that for myself. When it's time to go, it's time to go."
"To have a career like the one I had, like the ones they've had, that means you've been blessed. You know there's a great percentage of players who have played with more ability than what we have and they don't even make it to the big leagues. And you have a 15-, 20-year career. … It's a blessing."
That's cool with me, Papi. You play this game as long as you want.
The rest of the links:
CSNNE - Varitek's dad: 'I'm not a fan of that picture' | Sox begin spring training with 6-5 'B' game loss to Twins | Herald - Manny Ramirez to bat cleanup for Athletics on Friday | Daniel Bard begins conversion | Showing their wild side | Scott Boras hits on hot issues | Captain Jason Varitek leaves as he came, as a Red Sox | Globe - Jason Varitek's one-hit wonders | Varitek leaves behind a fine career - and one lasting, iconic image | WEEI - Reports: MLB to expand playoffs in '12 | Varitek: Priority was returning to Red Sox | Boras: 'I didn't let' teams offer Tek