Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek paid a visit to the Hill-Man Morning Show Wednesday on WEEI sister station WAAF and addressed the most recent controversy involving the team -- accusations that pitchers drank beer in the dugout during games. Varitek insisted he never saw this behavior. "Absolutely not," he stated.
Varitek said the leaks coming from Fenway Park are a big concern, and it's making the situation look far worse than it is.
"We've got to quit filling the coolers with vodka and beer," he joked. "You can go that far with this, and have a level of stupidity. And I believe this group still handled themselves that way, despite that going on. And I think the worst thing going on is that this team has always handled thing internally. We've had problems in the 15 years that I've been there, but nobody knows about them. Whether it be guys fighting, guys having a problem with a coach, guys having a problem with a trainer, having problems with each other, guys having fun, guys playing cards, people playing cribbage, to everything. You can't have 25 guys around each other for 6-8 months and not have trouble. … Those things have happened. The problem is, we've handled them internally for so long. We've won the majority of the time that I've been here. We've had that opportunity to go the playoffs. We took care of them internally.
"All of a sudden we don't, we don't perform well and these things are now brought about by an unnamed source? Shame on them. If it's a player, if it's a trainer, a coach, management, ownership. Shame on you, if you can't come out and be a part of it."
Varitek was asked if he thought a player was the one revealing clubhouse information.
"No," he said. "But we don't really know at this point. That's what shameful in this whole thing. Besides the way we played. We played absolute bad baseball, without saying it any other way."
Looking to next season, Varitek said, "I would love to be" back with the Sox, although he knows, "It might not be in their plans." Either way, he said the players will be able to put the controversies behind them, but it will take the support of the fans.
"The team can have it not be an issue," he said. "Can Red Sox Nation, and what builds and fuels this team? If they can't get over it, then it's going to be an issue."
Following are more highlights from the conversation.
On John Lackey: "I may be totally speaking out of where I normally am comfortable speaking, but the man pitched probably all year for us, took the ball every day, whether he was healthy or not. He had to deal with a lot physically. Everybody's making a big deal of what he had to do off the field. That's not a part of it. That's a part of his life, but it's not part of him as a human being. He took the ball when he didn't have to. … He wasn't 100 percent."
More on Lackey: "Lackey takes on -- I've said it all year -- he takes on a role with that pitching staff that you can't replace by what his numbers are on the mound. He does his work. He supports his teammates. [The pitchers] all support their teammates. They blow one thing up as if they're not supportive. I don't agree with it."
On Josh Beckett: "If it wasn't for Josh, the way he performed throughout the entire year -- he was the only stability in our rotation."
On Jon Lester allegedly following Beckett's lead: "Jon's his own man. He's been through everything he's been through."
On the pitchers consuming alcohol in the clubhouse during games: "Wrong? Yeah, it's wrong. Was it out of control? I don't believe it was out of control. … Is this something new? No. It goes all the way back to '04. Everybody giggles about [Kevin] Millar taking shots back then."
On accusations that the pitchers played video games in the clubhouse during Sox games: "I've never seen somebody play a video game [during a game]. Pregame, yeah."
On if the team respected manager Terry Francona: "Did this team respect Terry Francona? I would say yes. Everybody has their own respect for their own manager, yes. … I honestly can't speak for anyone. But, yes, he is your boss. What I believe in is you're going to have coaches you don't like, you're going to have management you don't like, you have players you don't like, but I'm still going to play with that utter respect. This is my elder. This is the way I was brought up, the way I was raised. No matter what, I'm going to respect them and treat them with that same respect.
"Whether guys are going to go in a foxhole with somebody, at this point it doesn't matter. Because you have to function. He's still our boss. It doesn't matter what happens. He makes the lineup, we go out and play. He makes the lineup, we go out and play. And with him, whether or not guys would go in a foxhole or have that much respect, you have to. You don't get to that many wins and those things going on."
On if the team quit: "I don't think anybody quit. I think there were a lot of contributing factors that relate to baseball."
On if he lumps himself with those who played poorly at the end of the season: "Absolutely. It would be ridiculous for me not to. … Does that mean I forgot and didn't all of a sudden care about calling a game, and I'm now stupid? No. But that's kind of what in my opinion is the perception of what's gone on. We didn't perform well. And we have to take that responsibility as players, outside of everything that's gone on."
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