TOP DIRT DOG
(Boston Globe Staff Photo / John Tlumacki)
"Being a Red Sox, this city, it pulls a lot out of me, because I think a lot of my values are like a lot of the fans' values, and a lot of the guys that play here have the same values. They like to get dirty. Fans like us to get dirty." -- 12.24 Captain Varitek
Jason Varitek Press Conference Transcript
Theo Epstein’s opening comments:
“We could not be happier.
It’s not every day that you’re lucky enough to find a player who
embodies everything you want your franchise to be. And when you’re lucky enough to have that player, you
don’t let him get away. And you
lock him up for as long as you can and you make him the rock of your franchise.
Jason has been the leader here for a long time.
We are lucky to have a lot of leaders -- Tim Wakefield is here supporting
Jason today. Jason is a special guy
in the clubhouse and has had an instrumental role for a long time here and will
for a long time to come. We all
know he’s a leader, but we actually have a little bit of a surprise here
today. We are going to formalize that role for Jason, and make you
(to Jason) the team captain.”
Jason Varitek’s opening comments:
“I’m extremely honored right now. I don’t really know what to say.
You add all these things together with it being Christmas Eve, it turns
into a special day. To hold this
honor in this city and this region for this team is something I’ll wear
proudly. But it doesn’t change
much what I do. I can’t really
change what I do. I’ll just
continue to try to do the same.”
Q: Why is loyalty so important to you?
A: (Jason) “Well, I think it always has
been. But this has nothing to do
with it besides two sides worked very hard together.
Scott worked very hard with Theo and went through many, many, many
conversations and worked through a lot of things for this to happen.
They put their foot forward and wanted to keep me here and Scott knew how
I felt and how I wanted to make sure we exhausted all avenues here.
And that’s why we’re able to remain a Boston Red Sox.”
Q: Was there a moment where you thought it
might not happen?
A: (Jason) “Yeah, every day. It’s an easy thing to think that way. I just felt in my heart - just letting time in the
discussions and letting Scott do his job for me -- I couldn’t be happier with
the job they did, the two of them working together.”
Q: Is Tek unique as a client?
A: (Scott Boras) “Well I’ve known Tek
since he’s 19. Unique is
something that his character is always going to be.
The conscience of the Varitek family is something that leads them, guides
them. One thing about Tek, I think
he finds a way to improve himself every year.
When you negotiate for someone like that, you are in a very different
position because you always want to make sure the character that they exhibit is
at the forefront of what you do. Certainly
in the baseball marketplace, that makes a lot of other teams unhappy because I
was not able to respond to a lot of situations that may have arose because Jason
and Karen told me specifically that my job was to sit down and talk with Theo
and go through this. The great
thing about working with people that do a lot of homework and examine and who
are open and objective -- and I think we all worked with both sides because
we’re all trying to understand that we’re dealing with something that is not
a custom in baseball, to have a performer at Jason’s position and at his age,
that plays at the level that he plays. And
I credit Theo and all the Red Sox, John Henry and everyone, because they
certainly listened to us, they certainly looked at Jason not from a boilerplate
perspective of what customary catchers do.
They looked at Jason Varitek. I think that allowed us to get this deal
Q: How did you get past the no-trade
A: (Theo) “I don’t want to go into too
much detail about the contract because we’re not supposed to discuss terms,
but we found a way to reward Jason and other Red Sox players who have no-trade
protection in their contract. If a
Red Sox player serves continually as a Red Sox for eight uninterrupted years of
major league service, then that player cannot be traded without his consent.
It’s very rare for a player to be able to reach that level -- Jason in
fact has not reached it yet, but will very shortly – we feel that loyalty
should be rewarded. That’s good
policy. By definition, if a player
is here for eight years straight, he has given up at least two of his free-agent
years, if not more, to be here. I
think that was a worthy compromise. It’s
a credit to Scott, who initially came up with the idea.
The no-trade protection was probably the most difficult part of the
negotiations, because we do have, and will continue to have, a policy against
full no-trade clauses.”
Q: Is that blanket for all players in the
A: (Theo) “It’s for players who have that
particular language in their contract. By
definition, several other players now have that added to their language because
they have clauses that stipulate that whatever no-trade protection someone else
gets, they get that exact same language in their contract.”
Q: You’re locked in for four years,
what’s going through your head right now?
A: (Jason) “Well, I think the biggest thing
is just having an opportunity to develop another championship team here.
I think that’s first and foremost.
That’s what we do here and that’s what we’ve done.
To be able to do it the first time, we all know how long it took, so
hopefully he have a foundation built big enough that we’re able to do this in
Q: Had it come to it, were you prepared to
go to another team?
A: (Jason) “We never got to that point, so I
don’t know. I can’t answer
Q: Have you studied the new guys yet?
A: (Jason) “I have, career, a lot of at-bats
against Wells so I’m glad to actually have an opportunity to catch him.
Clement, you’ve seen on TV. It’s
a good thing I get to spend a little time with Michael Barrett here in this next
month, who caught him this past year. We
do a lot of catching drills and we work out a little bit together so I’ll
learn a lot about him (Clement) quickly. Halama,
I’ve played against him for years, so I have a pretty good idea.
Wade Miller is another new one, so maybe I’ll have to call Jimy
Williams on that one.” (laughter)
Q: Talk about being the team’s captain:
A: (Jason) “For me, I can’t change.
I lead by my position, by what I do and what I believe in.
I can’t all of the sudden accept and do something different.
I think there are things that, through the course of time, exemplify you
as a leader, but now all of the sudden this doesn’t change things.
I still have the same role of communicating – communicating between
players, coaches, pitchers, position players – and that’s a huge part that
won’t change. Just my position,
it demands it. My position demands
it. I can’t really change what I
(Theo) “Just to add, we’re not asking
Jason to change at all by giving him this captaincy.
It’s more a recognition of what everyone in that clubhouse already
knows and a demonstration to the rest of baseball of the role Jason plays on
Q: Were you surprised Pedro left?
A: (Jason) “That’s a difficult one.
Yes, I am. But I wasn’t
involved. I don’t know what
exactly was going on. Once you play
here and as long as he’s played here and the things that he’s achieved here,
this is going to be something that’s very difficult for him.
He’s a tremendous player, everybody knows how I feel about him as a
player and as teammate. It’s going to be different going on without him for me
personally. I’ve learned a
tremendous amount about pitching and competing just from him alone.”
Q: Do you think you were rewarded with this
contract as much for how you approach the game as how you play it?
A: (Jason) “The way I think about it is that
God has blessed me with the opportunity -- to really have an opportunity to
glorify him. With that, he’s
allowed me personally to -- he’s given me the gift to be durable, to be
strong, to be mentally strong. It
all comes from him. Just pointing
me in the right direction to allow me to have this ability to continue to
Q: What didn’t we know about Pedro behind
the scenes? What made him so
A: (Jason) “He’s one of the best in the
game, period. He’s really a small
guy that overachieved into a big guy’s body at his position.
With heart, with competitive drive, with great pitches, he had the
success that he had. He had a great
ability to read hitters from the mound. If
you add that with his – everyone knows what a competitor he is – you have
Q: Talk about having such a different
A: (Jason) “It’s going to change. It’s my first day of it, again.
It’ll definitely change the face of this team because you don’t have
those two at the top, especially to start without Curt.
The face of the rotation for the Boston Red Sox, at least for the last
seven years, was Pedro Martinez, so of course that’s going to completely
Q: Have you spoken with Terry Francona yet?
A: (Jason) “He left me a message. It’s been a pretty hectic last 16 hours or whatever.
We were just trying to find a way to make sure that the two of us could
get here and get back home to take our kids to church tonight.
That’s the important part, we want to have the opportunity to be able
to share this evening with our children.”
Q: Why was it so important to remain with
the Red Sox?
A: (Jason) “Being a Red Sox, this city just
pulls a lot out of me because I think a lot of my values are a lot of the
fan’s values and a lot of guys that play here have the same values. They like to get dirty, the fans like us to get dirty.
We want to play hard and leave what we have on the field and that’s
what they demand out of you here. It
was, for the longest time, to win a championship here, to win one.
Now we’ve won one, now it’s to give these people the same
opportunity, the same chance to win another championship.”
Q: Why was the no-trade part so important?
A: (Jason) “It’s the same as what we were
just talking about. Sitting next to
me, my wife, and my kids. It’s
the only time you have that opportunity in your career to make sure, or at least
to try and make sure, that you can control a little bit what goes on. My kids are starting school in a year and it’s nice to know
exactly where you’re going to be for the planning purposes of your family.
People don’t always understand this – the blows that players’
families and wives have to go through to allow us to go out there and to
Q: Would you have considered taking less
money to come back to the Red Sox?
A: (Jason) “It’s hard to say. I’m not going to glorify anything that never existed.
It never got that far to really have to entertain that.
I was thankful I didn’t have to. We
wanted to exhaust all avenues here first completely before we entertained it and
took another step with anyone else.”
Q: How long did it take you to realize how
important Tek was to this team?
A: (Theo) “I’ve told Tek this before.
When I first got here in 2002, I only knew him from scouting reports,
from his track record, from seeing him play a number of times.
I saw a lot of him based on all those things, but I think it takes a
while. You have to be around the club every day, to see what the
pitchers are like with Jason through the course of a year.
What he does for them, what kind of a stabilizer he is, not only to the
pitchers, but to the whole clubhouse. A
lot of things in Boston make it difficult to go through the course of 162 games
– the size of the clubhouse, the intensity of the fans, the volume of media
that we have – so I think you need forces to counterbalance that.
Jason really counterbalances that. He’s
the ultimate stabilizer and makes everyone around him better.
It took me a few months, but by the end of 2002, I think I kind of
recognized what we had here in Jason Varitek.”
Q: How did the captaincy come about?
A: (Theo) “It was not at all part of the
contract negotiation. I told Scott
about it after we had already reached a deal and asked him to just keep it a
surprise for Jason. When mentioning
the idea, John Henry instantly said yes, Tom Werner instantly said yes, Larry
Lucchino instantly said yes. We had
about 10 seconds worth of discussion on it.
It seemed very fitting, the natural thing to do.
Jason has clearly earned it, he deserves it. The “C” looks good on his jersey. (To Jason) If you are really superficial and you don’t like
the way it looks, you don’t have to wear it (laughter).”
Q: Have you been a captain at other levels?
A: (Jason) “Yes, at Tech, after my freshman
year. My sophomore year, along with
some other guys, we had a co-captaincy. But
those are consistent every year, you have new ones that roll over and this is --
I am extremely honored, moreso because I know I would never even have this
opportunity unless it came from your teammates really.
So my teammates, Tim and those people, really their buzz is what’s
going to create something like this. So,
I just want to continue to be the same teammate to people like Tim and everybody
else that I have been.”
Q: Will there be more pressure on you?
A: (Jason) “That’s the way I play. What
you see is what you get. That’s
pretty much all I have that day, whatever it is.
When that starts to change, I’m going to have to evaluate whether or
not I need to still be playing this game. That’s
what drives me, is to be able to be consistent and do the same things day in and
day out. I think through the course
of time, the longer you’ve been there, you have to accept that role anyway,
with or without a letter on your uniform. But
just to have that, that’s an extremely big honor.
There’s nothing more you ask for than the respect of your peers.”
Q: Karen, what is your reaction to all
A: (Karen) “To tell you the truth, I just
had the feeling deep down that we were going to be back.
We honestly never really entertained not being back.
But the busy lives with the kids back home and visiting with family, we
were able to get through the days and kind of not really think about it.
And then it would come up and you’d put it in the back of your mind, so
when we got the call from Scott the other night, we were thrilled. Extremely thrilled. We
like it here and we’re glad to be back.”
Q: Why do you have such a strong
relationship with this city?
A: (Karen) “I don’t know to tell you the
truth. It’s been a crazy ride.
When we got traded here in ’97, I don’t think we would have ever
realized we’d be back for this long. We’ve
made a lot of great friends and the city has been good to us.
Jason, he just thrives here. I
honestly can’t see him playing in another city, to be honest.
I thought about it with the free agency, and I just don’t think he
would fit anywhere else. And
obviously where he goes, we go.