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Thursday, June 7
Updated: June 8, 9:08 PM ET
Diving catch costs Varitek 2-3 months

Associated Press

Ravech: Sox will miss Varitek


On a team with Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez and Nomar Garciappara, the catcher often gets overlooked. Jason Varitek may be the team's MVP this season. Replacing him on a long-term basis after he broke his elbow diving for a catch Thursday night will be impossible.

Varitek plays with a reckless abandon -- witness Monday night's game when he chased a foul ball into the Yankees' dugout. Without any help from the Yankees, he made an amazing catch (Web Gem quality). Now, his broken right elbow, suffered by making another great catch, puts the Red Sox in potential peril.

His absence will be impossible to conceal. Here's hoping both he and Nomar make speedy recovers so that Jimy Williams will be able to actually put the lineup on the card that he's been hoping to put there all season.

As for Varitek, he's an educated guy who rarely, if ever, makes a mistake behind the plate. Consider how difficult it is to catch for Tim Wakefield, David Cone, Hideo Nomo and Pedro, not too mention some of the guys in the bullpen who occasionally miss the signs he flashes.

As for national respect, Varitek gets zippo. He's way down on the All-Star voting.

  • Read more in Ravech's K-Corner
  • BOSTON -- Jason Varitek sat in Boston's dugout wearing a sling instead of a chest protector as he contemplated a stint on the disabled list of two-to-three months.

    Less than 24 hours after the catcher broke his right elbow making a diving catch, the prospect of not playing was hard to accept.

    "I wish it was today," Varitek said when asked when he might play again. "It's very frustrating."

    He is expected to have surgery next Tuesday on a broken bone on the outside of his right elbow, team physician Dr. Bill Morgan said.

    Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette, who gave the time frame for Varitek's return, praised the new starting catcher, Scott Hatteberg, batting .172 in his fifth season with Boston.

    "Hatteberg has experience," Duquette said. "He knows the (pitching) staff and he knows our team. He knows the league."

    Varitek, who started 47 of Boston's first 58 games and was hitting .293 with seven homers and 25 RBI, was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Catcher Marcus Jensen was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket.

    "I've been labeled as a defensive catcher," said Jensen, who hit .235 with four homers and 12 RBI in 27 games with Pawtucket. "Once you get labeled, `no-hit' goes with that. I'm working to erase that."

    Jensen, 28, was signed as a free agent April 26 after batting .209 in 52 games with Minnesota last year then being cut in spring training by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He also was a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic team.

    The bulk of the work will go to Hatteberg, who entered Friday night's game against Philadelphia with 10 hits in 58 at bats.

    "It's horrible. You hate to see anyone get injured," Hatteberg said. "There's nothing really different about my job. I just need to get out there and work with (the pitchers) like Jason did."

    Varitek, an outstanding defensive player and handler of pitchers, was hurt a little more than a month before the Red Sox hope to have shortstop Nomar Garciaparra back. Garciaparra, who played with Varitek at Georgia Tech, is recovering from surgery on his right wrist on Opening Day.

    Asked when Garciaparra would return, Duquette said, "hopefully right after the All-Star break" from July 9-11. He also said he would keep an eye out for available catchers on other teams but could stick with those already in the organization.

    Varitek had a CAT scan Friday to diagnose the injury. He knows he might miss the rest of the season.

    "It's always a possibility," Varitek said. "I haven't thought of it that much. I've only thought about when I can get back."

    He was injured in the seventh inning of Boston's 8-1 win when he caught Shane Halter's foul. As Varitek fell, his right hand hit the rubberized mat in the on-deck circle, which is placed over gravel.

    "With the mat there, yeah, (my hand) did stick. But to say if it wasn't there I wouldn't have stuck, I don't know," he said. "I would have done it again. It's a freak thing."

    He jumped up after making the catch and "immediately turned to see if the runner was going.

    "Pain shot through my arm," Varitek said. "I thought I just jammed something."

    But on Friday, he said, "I can't move it too much. It's really swollen internally."

    Varitek, in his fourth full season with Boston, began the year with a .258 career average, 37 homers and 174 RBI. He hit a career-low .248 last season, playing much of it with a wrist injury that required offseason surgery.

    Varitek, whose aggressive style has made him a team leader, hopes his latest injury won't affect his playing style.

    "I know how to play one way," he said. "If I can't play that way, I'm not the same player I've been."

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