- Joe McDonald, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON –- While the majority of Red Sox players had already cleaned out their lockers and packed their bags in preparation for the offseason, Jason Varitek’s stall was neat and complete, as if were the middle of June.
Boston’s captain sat in his chair this morning and was focusing on Game 162. He’s in the lineup and serving as John Lackey’s batterymate as the Red Sox conclude the 2010 season against the Yankees at Fenway Park.
This could be Varitek’s last game in a Red Sox uniform.
Already this weekend, Mike Lowell walked off the field gracefully, ending his career on Saturday. Then Red Sox manager Terry Francona made it a point to remove veteran pitcher Tim Wakefield from his start on Saturday at time when fans could honor him with a standing ovation.
Don’t be surprised if Francona does the same for Varitek this afternoon.
“Maybe we do it again today, depending on how the game goes,” Francona said. “Nobody knows what’s going to happen with a lot of things. Whether Tek’s here for another three years, he deserves respect anyway, so the last day of the season sometimes is a good way to do it if you can.”
Varitek, 38, has played the last 14 seasons for the Red Sox and has been a major component of the club’s success during his tenure.
“Regardless of what happens today, what Tek has done, and what he’ll continue to do, that ‘C’ that he wears, there’s a reason,” Francona said. “When you go through tough times, or whether you’ve been hurt, your true colors can come out, and his did.”
Varitek suffered a broken right foot and spent more than two months on the DL.
“He helped keep us together this year, that’s not an easy task when you’re hurt,” Francona said. “He went out of his way to be the captain. If anything, my appreciation and respect grew for him this year. He became more vocal and he tried to lead when he couldn’t play and he pulled it off.”
Varitek has made it known that he would like to continue playing, and believes he can do it. Whether his career continues in Boston remains to be seen. When asked if he thought Varitek would make a good manager some day, Francona said that decision would up to Varitek.
“When guys are good players, that doesn’t mean you’re a good manager,” Francona said. “If he wants to be, he probably could be. I don’t know if he has those aspirations or not. Sometimes good players have trouble being patient because they’re good.”
3dScott Barboza, Special to ESPN.com