One day after formally announcing his retirement during a press conference at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Fla., Jason Varitek joined the Mut & Merloni show to talk about his future, his captaincy and last year's disappointing finish.
Varitek said he hopes to remain with the team in some capacity, but it may take some time to determine an appropriate role.
"Obviously, I'd like to maintain and make sure that I am a part of the organization someway, somehow," he said. "Trading ideas of how that may transpire, we haven't gotten that far to where I can sit down and talk to Ben [Cherington] and get there. But there's desire on both sides to figure something out and for that to happen. I do love the game. And I do love the fact that I know that there's still a lot I can give to the game -- and learn from the game. But how that transpires, it's going to take some time. I still wanted to play. I've got to make sure that when I change roles I'm mentally ready to accept a different role."
Asked about last year's collapse -- specifically the role of pitcher Josh Beckett -- Varitek expressed frustration with the focus on the past.
"I'm surprised that this is still a topic of conversation. It shouldn't be," he said. "These things, they go on and on. And there's no one person. Everybody wants someone to be a scapegoat. They want me to be a scapegoat because maybe I didn't do enough in the clubhouse. Or [Terry Francona] to be a scapegoat, maybe he didn't do enough in the management. Maybe Josh was the one pitcher that didn't do enough with the pitching stuff.
"The fact of the matter is we didn't play good baseball. We had plenty of meetings making sure we were trying to get on the same page, and we were all on the same page. And everybody's heart and desires were pushed in the right direction. We didn't perform well. And it comes down to you don't perform well, you don't get the result, it looks like a different story. So you look to point blame in areas that maybe that's not where the blame was. The execution wasn't there."
Varitek said fans should instead be looking forward to what a talented Red Sox team can accomplish in 2012.
Said Varitek: "I'm just surprised the excitement of what that team now has to offer -- moving [Daniel] Bard and [Alfredo] Aceves into the rotation, and some of the additions, and getting people healthy, and [Adrian Gonzalez] coming off a full winter of not having to deal with the shoulder surgery, you have different things. This team can be an exciting team to watch. You've got a new manager. You've got different newness, a new GM.
"You can't do anything about how the end of last year ended. That's what I think. You have a new team. This is 2012. It's time to enjoy this team and what they have to offer."
The Red Sox captain since 2005, Varitek talked about what it meant to be recognized that way.
"It meant that an organization and management -- whether it be managers, general managers and the organization -- felt highly enough about the way I conducted my work and went about my work, my training, and the things, the intangibles that I was able to do, that they honored that with putting a 'C' on my jersey," he said. "It wasn't something I was comfortable with. Then things wear on, and that's where it's an honor because that's where they want to mold their organization, is that that's how they want people to conduct their business. For me, it was a great honor. And it didn't change who I was and what I did. If anything, at different times I had to learn to talk more when I wasn't quite used to it. I'm just extremely honored that they gave me that honor."
Earlier in the day, Varitek joined "The Hill-Man Morning Show" on WEEI sister station WAAF and suggested that there's an obvious candidate to take over as captain. "That's easy. That's Dustin [Pedroia]," he said.
Following are more highlights from the Mut & Merloni interview.
On the emotion he showed at Thursday's press conference: "I had the hardest time with it of trying to get my thoughts together and getting them down on paper. Every time I'd read something I put down you'd get an emotional again and then you get lost. And then it's a different part you put down, you get emotional about that. It wasn't easy."
On former pitching coach/manager Joe Kerrigan, whom Varitek did not acknowledge during his speech Thursday: "I may have left Joe Kerrigan off there. Joe has been a part of my development as a catcher. Sometimes it's not always an easy development; you butt heads. And sometimes that's how you grow. But I learned so, so much from Joe, in his tenure that he was here."
On Terry Francona's stress level during last year's collapse: "I think that the stress of everything -- nobody was the same. Because that unfolded quickly. I wouldn't say the last month, but the last maybe few weeks. I think from top down it was a whole different stress level as this was coming down. … With Tito, he still went about his business of trying to make sure this ship is centered. And that's no different. We didn't have the same results by player performance more than anything."
On working with Jarrod Saltalamacchia: "You have different gifts. I had a gift to where I could put myself aside and truly work with somebody. You're going to developing your own way, and you're not going to give him the Holy Grail of advice, but we all run into different complications, different issues, different ideas. And if somebody knows you're there supporting them, and you're there not to undermine them, take their job, to do something, then you develop trust. I'll have a lifelong friend in Salty. And I look forward to him taking another step closer to being a great player."
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