Welcome Back, Jason Varitek

Filed in Sports by on April 11, 2010 0 Comments

Red Sox captain Jason Varitek thumbed his nose at critics, hitting two home runs in his return to the lineup Saturday night

The most important part of the Red Sox just-concluded three game set in Kansas City is the 2-1 series victory Boston pulled out. With the two wins, Boston is back to a .500 record overall on the young season. The two wins also snapped a three game losing streak Boston had been carrying since they dropped the second game of the season to the Yankees.

However, the most exciting part of this past series has to be Jason Varitek’s triumphant—though brief—return to the lineup. In Game 2, the Sox captain got the start behind the plate and, as if proving wrong everyone who doubted he could still be an effective hitter, belted two home runs en route to an 8-3 win.

Talk about vindication.

Varitek, whose hitting has slumped drastically the past few seasons, became the odd man out halfway through last year when Boston added the strong bat of catcher Victor Martinez to the lineup. With his contract up, and despite knowing he would serve as a backup should he remain in Boston, Varitek decided to stay put.

A few nights before the game, a group of friends and I, while watching the Yankees pick apart Boston’s relief corps, considered which player’s jersey we would buy if we had the money to do so. My answer, met by a few confused expressions, was Jason Varitek. He’d always been my favorite player, in part for his talent as a catcher, but also for his seeming authenticity. In a game where players flit from team to team, seeking more money and a chance to win a championship on the spot with a team cobbled together of other big name free agents (think the 2009 Yankees) Varitek stayed with his team. His loyalty is rare in baseball, and something worthy of admiration.

We won’t see a career season from the senior catcher; he is, unfortunately, past his prime. For the series’ final game, he was back on the bench, again the backup catcher. Still, seeing him trot home after his second home run of the night was an encore to his career too perfect to be scripted.

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