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Tough call for two rival catchers

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  November 10, 2011 10:40 AM

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Jorge Posada made his debut with the Yankees in 1995 and has played 208 games against the Red Sox. Jason Varitek made his debut with the Red Sox in 1997 and has played 172 games against the Yankees.

Posada is 40 and Varitek turns 40 in April. Their careers have taken the same path for the most part and they're beloved in their respective cities for their commitment to their teams, toughness and ability.

Imagine the conversation those two guys could have. They've seen it all.

Now comes the tough part.

As Posada told Mark Feinsand of the Daily News and other reporters last night, he knows he won't be back with the Yankees in 2012. The question he has to answer is whether he can play for another team.

Teams have contacted him and Posada, who lives in Miami, could be a good pickup for the Marlins as a clubhouse mentor and backup catcher. But after so many years with the Yankees, could he suit up for somebody else?

Like Posada, Varitek is a free agent and could have a difficult decision to make. If the Red Sox don't want to bring him back, could he play for another team?

Varitek told me a few weeks ago that he definitely wants to play in 2012 and hopes it will be in Boston. He's not sure what he would do otherwise.

Because he is such a good catcher, Varitek has value to the Red Sox that Posada doesn't have to the Yankees. But the Red Sox also have Ryan Lavarnway waiting in the wings. Given the construction of their lineup, a righthanded hitter with pop would be a welcome addition.

Ben Cherington and Brian Cashman have said all the right things, praising Varitek and Posada without making any promises or commitments. At some point, every GM has to make a cold-blooded decision to sweep away old guys and replace them with younger players.

In New York, that clearly will happen. In Boston, we're not sure. But the end of an era is near in the great rivalry between the Sox and Yanks. Varitek and Posada were never the best players on the field but they were among the better catchers in the game during their time. It would be strange to see them playing for somebody else.

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