BOSTON When the Red Sox signed free agent catcher Kelly Shoppach Tuesday, it appeared the acquisition tolled the death knell for Jason Variteks tenure in Boston. Varitek, a free agent who turns 40 in April, has spent his entire 15-season big league career in a Sox uniform.
But, maybe the end is not near for Varitek and the Sox.
We have incredible respect for 'Tek, said general manager Ben Cherington. I have incredible respect for Tek on a personal level. We as an organization and ownership, have incredible respect for him and the contributions hes made. And I think our hope is that 'Tek will always be a part of the Red Sox in some way. As far as what this means immediately, what we want to do is keep talking with 'Tek and not discuss that in a public forum. But well have an opportunity to keep talking to 'Tek and his agent Scott Boras and figure out whats best for the Red Sox, best for him and we look forward to doing that.
Shoppach, who turns 32 in April, is returning to the Sox after being traded before the 2006 season in a seven-player deal with the Indians that brought center fielder Coco Crisp to Boston. He was with the Indians for four seasons, playing the past two with the Rays.
Shoppach, a right-handed batter, is a career .224 hitter, with a .315 on-base percentage, .417 slugging percentage, 59 home runs, and 180 RBI. In 87 games with the Rays last season, he hit .176.268.3391122.
He has thrown out 28.2 percent of would-be basestealers in his career (73 of 285), and lead the American League in 2011, catching 40.9 percent of attempted base stealers.
We obviously know Shop well, Cherington said. And as we went into the offseason we felt like there was a couple of things that were important to us with regards to the catching position. One was to continue to find ways to help in the running game and help control the running game, which was an area of concern of ours last year. Shops been able to help the pitching staff control the running game pretty consistently throughout his career. Hes also a guy that has consistently hit left-hand pitching and that sort of fits in as a compliment to switch-hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
And we also felt like, we felt like in a perfect world we would look to solidify the catching position by adding strength to that area and not necessarily counting on Ryan Lavarnway going into spring training. That said, we really think highly of Ryan. We think Hes going to be a really good player for us in the future. So we just feel like Shop helps us strengthen the position overall and helps complement Salty.