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Varitek: No switch from switching

Posted by Tony Massarotti, Globe Staff  February 16, 2009 10:13 AM

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In case youíre wondering, Jason Varitek knows the idea has been floated. But if youíre expecting him to give up switch-hitting to bat only righthanded, he has a simple answer.

"Oh my goodness. Hell, no," Varitek said this morning at the Red Sox' spring training complex. "Have you ever all of a sudden tried to hit right-on-right when you havenít done it in 15 years? . . . Iíve heard that offered a few different times whether [it was suggested] in the media or whatever, but itís ludicrous."

So there you have it.

Heís still switch-hitting.

A natural righthanded hitter, Varitek batted .284 from the right side last season as opposed to .201 from the left side. The discrepancy was easily the greatest of his 12-year career. The difference in OPS was even more astounding -- .863 from the right side, .616 from the left -- which led to the obvious suggestion that maybe it was time for him to hit solely from the right side.

Obvious, it seems, to everyone but him.

For the record, Varitek said the idea of hitting exclusively righthanded never has been discussed by him and team officials. Though he has always been a better hitter from the right side, his ability to hit lefthanded is one of the biggest reasons he emerged as an everyday player given the that the majority of pitchers are righthanded.

"Do I hit a home run in the playoffs off [Tampa righthander James] Shields if Iím hitting righthanded?" Varitek wondered, referring to his solo homer off the Tampa ace that broke a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning of Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, propelling the Red Sox to a 4-2 win. "Itís too much of an asset."

For his career, Varitek is a .284 hitter from the right side and a .254 hitter from the left, with a slightly lower OPS from the left side (.767) than the right (.830). Before last season, his career average from the left side was .260.

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