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Next move is Varitek's and it could be retirement

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  February 17, 2012 07:26 PM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — With Tim Wakefield announcing his retirement today, there is widespread speculation that Jason Varitek may soon follow.

General manager Ben Cherington said the Red Sox have offered Varitek a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training. But that is as far as they will go.

With pitchers and catchers reporting on Sunday, there is no indication that Varitek will accept that offer. Friends are saying they believe he will retire and Cherington does not expect him in camp.

"Because I don't expect any additions, I guess I don't expect that he would be here on Sunday. That's something, again, that we've agreed with Jason to continue to talk to him, let him make that decision. He needs to make it on his own, and I respect that," Cherington said.

Cherington has been speaking with agent Scott Boras regarding the situation in recent weeks.

"We told him that there was an opportunity to come to camp, and gave him, as we did with Tim, gave him as much of the landscape as we could in terms of what that would mean. Again, [it’s] a unique situation. To put that in a player's court [is] not normally what we do. Within these two particularly cases, we felt that there was merit to doing it that way because of what the players meant to the team."

Cherington said there is no deadline on the offer. But obviously Varitek would report on time if he intended to try and make the team.

The team captain, Varitek hit .221 with a .300 on-base percentage last season. The Red Sox have Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kelly Shoppach on the roster and would not carry three catchers.

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