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Red Sox catcher Varitek to retire

The Boston Red Sox are saying goodbye to their captain.

Catcher Jason Varitek has decided to retire after 15 seasons with the Red Sox, a person familiar with the decision told the Associated Press on Monday night. The person requested anonymity because Varitek had not made an announcement.

The Boston Globe first reported Varitek’s decision.

Varitek is expected to make it official Thursday at Boston’s spring training camp in Fort Myers, Florida.

A first round draft pick in 1994, Varitek came to Boston with Derek Lowe in a trade from Seattle for Heathcliff Slocumb in 1997 and spent his entire big league career with the Red Sox. He caught four no-hitters, made three All-Star teams won two World Series titles, all the while endearing himself to the team’s demanding fan base with his unyielding work ethic and a refusal to back down.
Jason Varitek (MCT)
Jason Varitek (MCT)

Varitek surpassed Carlton Fisk for most games caught in a Red Sox uniform back in 2006 and finished with 1,488 games behind the plate. He has a career average of .256 with 193 home runs and 757 RBIs. His best statistical season came in 2003, when he hit .273 with 25 homers and 85 RBIs, giving the Red Sox the luxury of having some offensive punch from the catcher position.

But it was always about more than numbers with Varitek.

His icy stare, rugged beard and crew cut hairstyle was the perfect look for a rag-tag group that helped end decades of inferiority to the hated Yankees with a magical run to the World Series title in 2004. He caught no-hitters from Hideo Nomo in 2001, Derek Lowe in 2002, Clay Buchholz in 2007 and Jon Lester in 2008. (AP)

Darvish to make March 7 start

Yu Darvish faced two Texas Rangers minor leaguers in a spring training practice session Monday. On March 7, he will face big league hitters from another team for the first time.

The Rangers said Darvish will get the start against the San Diego Padres in Peoria, Arizona. He would likely pitch two innings.

The Rangers signed Darvish, a 25-year-old right-hander who was a dominant pitcher for seven years in Japan, to a six-year, $56 million contract on Jan. 18. With the posting money, the Rangers paid more than $107 million for Darvish, who was 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA and 276 strikeouts last year with Hokkaido.

Darvish threw 34 pitches on Monday to Mike Bianucci and Vince DiFazio, who have not played above Class AA. Bianucci said the two talked about going deep off Darvish in batting practice, but it did not happen.

“It would have been great to do it, but a guy with a movement like that you’re just trying to put a good swing on it especially with him,” Bianucci said. “He’s not going to make too many mistakes where you can get the ball out of the ball park.” (AP)