FORT MYERS, Fla. - Red Sox captain Jason Varitek addressed the media for the first time this season. He spoke about being fit and healthy and said that retirement is nowhere in sight. I'll have an On Baseball column on Varitek in Monday's Globe.
Asked whether he could envision himself being another Carlton Fisk and Bob Boone and play into his 40s, he said, "Absolutely. If my body holds up and I'm able to do the things I feel I can still do then I'll play as long as I can. If I start compromising my livelihood for my kids later in life then I've got to start questioning things. If I'm not putting myself in a competitive spot to help a team win, then I have to question things again. Going to back to the question, is that what I envision? Yes, that's what I envision."
Varitek has been able to speak to Fisk about his goals.
"I love talking to Pudge whenever he comes. I could sit and talk to him all day long. I wish he was around a lot more often. I think for me personally, the work I've done 10-15 years ago, this is when it's starting to show and pay off. It's put my body in position to handle different things. If I hadn't done that work it would be a lot different."
Varitek said this is the healthiest he's been in a long time. He's recovered from his broken foot, all of his other back, neck and leg ailments have gotten better. He was able to work out more than he has in many years this offseason.
He's more prepared in his role as back-up catcher to Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Asked how he accepted and embraced the new role, Varirek said: "Accept it or embrace it, that's two different things because things can change quickly. You can't not be prepared. Just like Vic [Martinez] last year breaking his thumb. You have to be ready right now in the middle of that game."
"I had a head start on it the year before (after the acquired Martinez). I had two months of being in that role. Having the ability to prepare for it, per winter, per spring training, etc .... Learning what I need to do to stay sharp, that's still a work in progress."
Varitek spoke about being a mentor and a teacher, but also indicated he needs to get ready to be a player first. He made a few mentions of catching coach Gary Tuck "killing us" and mentioned how hard working Saltalamacchia is and the fact that he feels he will be a top major league player.
Varitek spoke about the emotional standing ovation he received from the Fenway Park crowd the final day of last season when it was looking as if it might be his last game as a Red Sox.
"It was very uncertain. My kids were upset for a good two hours after I got done with icing and talking to the media. I realized they grew up here. It wasn't just me who grew up here. It was an emotional time but it was out of my control," he said.
Varitek has been catching Tim Wakefield to prepare for the possibility that he will be the one to catch Wakefield, if he should find his way in to the starting rotation.