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Is Varitek in line for an invitation?

By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / January 14, 2012
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It is awkward for both sides.

Clearly the Red Sox have moved on from Jason Varitek as their primary catching option. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is entrenched as the No. 1 catcher and the team signed veteran Kelly Shoppach in December and rookie Ryan Lavarnway is knocking on the door.

In response to a tweet by Jon Heyman of that the team was offering Varitek a spring training invitation as a non-roster player, Sox general manager Ben Cherington texted he has not yet made a formal offer of any kind to the 39-year-old - although Sox sources indicate that likely will be the scenario.

Cherington and agent Scott Boras have been in contact all winter on Varitek and Jacoby Ellsbury, who is negotiating a deal that will keep him from arbitration before Tuesday’s deadline. Boras has said that he expects the team will offer Varitek a deal.

The question is, would Varitek want to end his career this way if he should not make the team out of spring training, or would he want to play elsewhere? The third choice would be, as Yankees counterpart Jorge Posada has decided, to retire.

Varitek did not respond to texts last night asking what his thinking would be.

The same question might be facing Tim Wakefield. The team has not offered Wakefield any deal, but if it does, it may be a non-roster invite.

Pedro still has it

Pedro Martinez was in Boston last night to speak at a benefit for the Jimmy Fund and the Pedro Martinez and Brothers Foundation at the Liberty Hotel.

Martinez applauded the selection of Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander as the American League Most Valuable Player, an award that eluded Martinez in a stellar 1999 season.

“I was extremely happy, especially for the two knuckleheads that chose not to vote [for me] just because they could,’’ said Martinez, referencing George King of the New York Post and LaVelle Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, who left Martinez off their MVP ballots entirely. King voted for two pitchers the previous season.

“It wasn’t a matter of numbers, it was a matter of being proud of just knocking one guy out,’’ said Martinez. “Both of them are very clever at doing their jobs, but now they’re going to look like dummies for the rest of their careers for not voting that day.’’

Martinez, who secured the pitching triple crown in ’99 with a 23-4 record, a 2.07 ERA, and 313 strikeouts, admitted he still struggles to understand why he was left off the ballots.

“I hope it’s not because they were prejudiced, or because they had race in their mind,’’ said Martinez. “The only reason I could see that they wouldn’t vote [for me] is because they either had something personal against me, or maybe because I wasn’t from the United States.’’

Martinez, who said his heart will always be in Boston, discussed how the Red Sox should try to recover after last season’s disappointing finish.

“You just put that [season] behind [you] and try to just go back to doing what you have to do,’’ he said.

“In the 2003 season we lost to the Yankees in Game 7 and we came back in 2004 and made them swallow what we swallowed,’’ he said. “It’s a matter of integrity. You have to actually take it personal and make sure that you prove everybody wrong about the things that they said from the previous season.’’

Cook, Sweeney sign

Righthander Aaron Cook passed his physical and signed a one-year, minor-league deal with the Sox. He will earn $1.5 million if he makes the major league roster . . . Outfielder Ryan Sweeney, acquired in the Andrew Bailey trade with Oakland last month, agreed to a $1.75 million, one-year contract, avoiding arbitration.

Material from Globe correspondent Seth Lakso and the Associated Press was used in this report. Nick Cafardo can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.

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