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Varitek to return this weekend

Posted by Adam Kilgore, Globe Staff  August 21, 2009 04:53 PM

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Jason Varitek, who will sit out tonight for the fourth consecutive day because of muscle spasms in his neck, is scheduled to catch Saturday and Sunday, manager Terry Francona said.

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Varitek had been fighting a sore neck for a couple months, but his neck "locked up" on him the first day in Toronto. Varitek could have gutted through the past two games, but Francona decided allowing Victor Martinez to catch would help Varitek.

"Because he didn't have to play, I think this thing had a chance to settle down a little bit," Francona said. "Hopefully not be something that he has to fight for the rest of the year to the point that it overwhelms him."

Varitek will catch projected starters Junichi Tazawa and Josh Beckett. This season, either by coincidence or not, Beckett has been far better with Varitek behind the plate. In his 21 starts throwing to Varitek, he is 14-2 with a 2.52 ERA. In his two starts he threw to George Kottaras and his start Tuesday when he threw to Martinez, Beckett is 0-2 with a 11.25 ERA.

Varitek's absence has allowed Martinez to grow more familair with the Red Sox' pitching staff.

"That hasn't hurt at all," Francona said. "He's been forced to catch everybody, which will certainly be helpful down the stretch. He's done an unbelievable job. His energy. Being a teammate. Everything we heard in Cleveland, we're seeing for ourselves now. Which is very exciting."

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