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RED SOX NOTEBOOK

Varitek may 'C' it through

Modest as he is, Jason Varitek is having a difficult time deciding whether to wear the captain's "C" on his jersey. The club anointed Varitek captain in December but left the decision on whether to wear the C to him.

Asked about it yesterday, Varitek paused before answering.

"It's a hard thing to shy away from because I might be a little bashful," said Varitek, the first Sox captain since 1989, and only the third since 1923. "They've honored me with that, and I think I'm going to honor them back and wear it."

Arroyo pitches in
Forget A-Rod. How about A-lightning-Rod? That's what Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez has become. The piling on continued with the arrival of pitcher Bronson Arroyo. "You have a level of respect for people for what they do on the field and for how they carry themselves," said Arroyo, who hit Rodriguez with a fastball last July 24, touching off the brawl that proved a seminal moment in the Sox' season. "A couple incidents, the July 24 incident, knocking the ball out of my hand [in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series] had a lot to do with people's perception of the way he plays the game. I think people could perceive him as a little bit of a dirty player and not as likable as he once was." . . . Owner John W. Henry avoided the A-Rod debate and praised the Sox-Yankees rivalry. He also acknowledged that he heard from Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in the wake of the World Series. "He sent me a note, yes," Henry said. "But our paths haven't really crossed." . . . Eighty-nine callers left messages on Dr. Charles Steinberg's voice mail and 300-400 calls streamed into the Sox switchboard when the team's executive vice president/public affairs suggested the mere possibility the Sox would not receive their World Series rings at the home opener, April 11 against the Yankees. "I'm afraid that some people might have been confused that we weren't going to celebrate the World Series on Opening Day," Steinberg said. "That's not the case at all. The question had come to me: Is it true that there have been alternatives to a ring ceremony Opening Day that have been advanced. The answer was yes. Some people thought an alternate event was in deference to the Yankees. No. The issue was not the opponent. The issue was, do you take something this special and perhaps make it its own event at Fenway, or the FleetCenter, or at a hotel for a fund-raising dinner?" Steinberg said genuine discussions have not yet begun.

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