Varitek on rotation, and Varitek

March, 17, 2011
3/17/11
2:15
PM ET
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Asked what he thought of the rotation alignment, Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek said he didn’t know what it was.

Care to guess?

“I don’t know, Lester?” Varitek said, correctly identifying Terry Francona’s choice to pitch the opener. “Then I don’t know.”

John Lackey.

“OK.”

Clay Buchholz.

“OK.”

Josh Beckett.

“OK.”

Daisuke Matsuzaka.

“OK.”

So, whaddya think?

“Good,’’ said Varitek, as he worked on his lunchtime sandwich. “As far as how it transpires right now, there are so many games, so much time, we need quality starts 1 through 5, anyway.’’

In other words, not all that important?

“I don’t even remember what the order was in the past,’’ he said. “It gets jarred up during the season up until you get to the playoffs, when it’s set up again.

“We do have the aberration of a lefty [Lester] in there, as you turn the corner from Daisuke to Lackey, which is a good mix.’’

Count Varitek among those who thought Lackey was given more grief for his performance than he deserved last season, even if the numbers showed his walks and hits were up, his strikeouts were down, and his ERA was as high as it has been since 2004.

“The man goes out there and competes, day in and day out,’’ Varitek said.

“People took a lot of shots at him, but he was so valuable to our team. Even though he may not have had the best numbers in the world, we relied on that guy. He might have given up a couple of runs early, but he’s going to fight, scratch, claw, the next thing you know he’s out there through seven.

“That’s testament to the man and who he is and what he means to this pitching staff and everyone else. He teaches a lot that way. That’s commendable.’’

But, but, but ... the loads of hits, the 4.40 ERA, the higher number of walks, the fewer number of whiffs.

“That’s how you guys [reporters] break it down,’’ Varitek said. “I don’t see that. I see a guy who’s extremely valuable to this entire pitching staff. Especially what this man does with these guys in here. He’s supportive as all get out. He’s a good leader.’’

OK, that’s settled. How about you, Jason? How much are you going to play? Two, three, four times a week?

“I have no idea.’’

Really?

“I was told when we had our meetings [at the start of spring] my role was like it was last year with Vic [Victor Martinez]. I just have to prepare. I’m playing every other day right now, though I got a second day today. I’m just trying to get my sea legs under me.’’

Considering you didn’t take your usual daily beating last season, are you perhaps stronger this spring than in the past?

“In some ways, yes. But I’m still getting used to doing what I do, then recovering.’’

Getting harder, with your 39th birthday looming on April 11?

“I don’t know. I don’t know what normal is supposed to be. Some things are harder, absolutely. I don’t think anything is like when I was 22. I have to listen to my body a little more, back off more when maybe I wasn’t used to doing that. We’ll see.’’

Much obliged.

“You’re welcome.’’

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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