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Tek Talk: What Has Gotten Into Jason Varitek?

Pleasantly surprised with Jason Varitek (Photo by NBC Sports Media)

Attention man bearing the uncanny resemblance to Jason Varitek wearing the #33 in the Red Sox clubhouse:  Who are you and what have you done with the 2009-Tek?

On second thought, who cares? Your performance in just three short weeks of the 2010 MLB season in quickly erasing painful memories of the six months of suffering Red Sox Nation had to endure while watching you try to hit and throw out an occasional base runner.

Who would’ve thought that Jason Varitek, the oldest guy on the roster [behind Tim Wakefield], would be one of the biggest offensive contributors to this year’s squad, especially after last year’s performance?

I can’t figure it out for the life of me, but hey, I’ll take this year’s puzzlement over last year’s perpetual screaming at my tv screen, “Why can’t you hit the (expletive) ball, Tek?!?!”

Varitek is sporting a .314 average, topped only by Adrian Beltre and a banged-up Ellsbury.

Just over a month  into the season, Tek has notched five homers, and is just nine home runs shy of surpassing his measly 14 from last year.

Why Is Varitek Better?

So why the sudden change?  I have a few theories:

  1. His reduced playing results in a fresher approach at the plate.  His bat speed is much better this year, and he is not missing mistakes.  Also, he’s laying off the high fastball.
  2. Personal issues, i.e. his divorce and rumors of infidelity, have subdued, as has media attention about said issues, and he is less distracted.
  3. The start to this season was so horrendous all-around, that we are clinging to ANY glimmer of hope and magnifying any success  by 1000x.

Whatever the reason, it’s refreshing to see him hit.  It was sad to see the backbone of the team struggle as much as he did last season.  You could read the disappointment on his face. If he continues to hit like this, I will gladly keep my foot in my mouth to make up for all the pre-season-Varitek-nay-saying I partook in.

Where does Varitek belong?

I suspect we will see a lot more than we thought of Varitek this season.  His increased playing time could be correlated to Big Papi’s struggles at the plate.  I would like to see Victor Martinez see some more playing time at DH and keep Varitek behind the plate.  V-Mart, once he finds his groove, and it seems like he’s close to doing so after cranking out two homers last week against the Angels and Yankees, will be  producing a lot more runs.  And despite Tek’s age, he still has a decent arm, and will be more effective in throwing out base runners.

Who knows how long Tek’s hitting streak will last? We all would love to think it will carry on through September, and optimistically thinking, into the post-season. In a Normal Rockwell world, we’d love to see him send a rocket over the monster in a nail-biting Game 7 of the 2010 ALCS as a trail of Yankee tear drops leads to their locker room.

But we all know it’s never that easy, and rarely turns out that way.

Sooner or later, age trumps enthusiasm, and Tek will slow down.  It will be sad, as it will most likely be the end of an era for Red Sox Nation.  But let’s hope by then, the rest of the team will have hit their stride and come together as a unit.  Still, I’d love to see Tek leave Boston on a positive note.

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One comment for “Tek Talk: What Has Gotten Into Jason Varitek?”

  1. Come on–Tek is no rocket scientist of course and couldn’t hit his was out of a paper bag–but you gotta give the guy credit –doing Heidi, Hazel and Tina is a damn good average

    Posted by jeru | August 11, 2010, 7:38 pm

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