Varitek bids emotional goodbye to Red Sox
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Jason Varitek spent 15 seasons as the stoic center of the Boston Red Sox, with an icy stare that never blinked and an iron jaw that never quivered.
The toughness and tenacity that defined his career and galvanized the Red Sox back to the top of the baseball world finally gave way Thursday night, when the Captain bid farewell.
With his wife and three daughters by his side, and his parents and dozens of teammates watching from just a few feet away, an emotional Varitek officially announced his retirement.
“My teammates,” Varitek said, his voice shaking and his eyes welling, are “what I’m going to miss most. The hardest thing to do is to walk away from your teammates and what they’ve meant to you over the years.”
If Dustin Pedroia is the heart of the Red Sox and David Ortiz is the soul, Varitek was the steel spine that held everything together.
He caught four no-hitters, played in three All-Star games, won two championship rings and had one memorable run-in with Yankees star Alex Rodriguez that will endear him to Boston sports fans forever.
“You have not only been our captain, you have been our rock,” Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said. “You have personified the rugged, aggressive, fiercely competitive style of play that has characterized our club during your tenure.”
The Red Sox acquired Varitek and Derek Lowe in a lopsided trade with Seattle for Heathcliff Slocumb in 1997.
Burnett to have surgery on broken orbital bone: At Pittsburgh, Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett will undergo surgery today to repair a fractured right orbital bone.
The right-hander was injured Wednesday at the team’s spring training facilities in Bradenton, Fla., while trying to bunt. The failed attempt caromed off his bat and into his face.
He flew to Pittsburgh late Wednesday to be further evaluated.
There is no immediate timetable for Burnett’s return. The 35-year-old was acquired in a three-player trade with the New York Yankees last month.
Cardinals sign Molina to 5-year deal: At Jupiter, Fla., the St. Louis Cardinals made certain another big star did not get away.
Four-time Gold Glove catcher Yadier Molina agreed to a five-year, $75 million contract Thursday that kicks in next season and will keep him in St. Louis through the 2017 season. The deal makes Molina, long known for his premier defense and with a much improved bat, the second-highest paid catcher in the majors.