Notes: Varitek says he'll stay in contact

Notes: Varitek says he'll stay in contact

BOSTON -- After battling through the day-to-day grind of being a catcher all season, Jason Varitek might be out at least four to six weeks after he has knee surgery Thursday. But that doesn't mean the Red Sox captain is going to fade into the background.

"I'm not gonna disappear unless they make me. They'll have a hard time doing that," Varitek said. "Dougie [Mirabelli, now the starting catcher] and I will continue to communicate, and I'll do what I can do to help to help communicate to the pitchers. I'll try and help in anyway I can right now and just be a supportive teammate."

After right fielder Trot Nixon was added to the disabled list this week with a biceps injury, the Red Sox learned equally devastating news Tuesday when they discovered Varitek will need surgery to repair a partial tear of the meniscus in his left knee.

Battling with muscle pain in his gluteus earlier this year, Varitek's latest injury has been the only thing severe enough to put the captain to rest.

The injury most likely occurred on a slide from the Angels' Mike Napoli on Saturday, and it was aggravated Monday when he was running to second base on a double.

"I think that the placement of it being in the medial, back [of the knee] is kind of what made us all decide to do it now because they didn't feel that I could play through it," Varitek said. "Even in a limited role, because of what we do, because of squatting and because it's in the back part where it pinches."

"My understanding is [that] it's outpatient. My understanding is after the first day or so, I immediately start to try and reduce swelling and try to work on flexibility," Varitek said. "Once you get the flexibility back and you get the swelling, then you can start strengthening and then from strengthening ... in the middle of it, doing the baseball stuff."

Despite an off-year at the plate, Varitek's contribution in the clubhouse and with the pitchers who shower him with accolades has made him the unquestioned leader of this team. He is batting .243 with 11 home runs and 53 RBIs.

"We recognize he's great. He's our captain. The object is to overcome the missing part. That's what were gonna try and do," manager Terry Francona said. "I think if we start to feel sorry for ourselves and think about what he does, it doesn't help. So we go play and try to win games."

Long-time backup Mirabelli will carry the starting duties until Varitek returns and Ken Huckaby has been called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to serve as the backup catcher.

"Doug's proven himself. He was here in '01 and did an awesome job. Doug knows what he's doing," Varitek said. "I know I have the confidence in him to carry this team and carry this staff and that's gonna be the most important part that he's gonna have to do. This change is gonna rely on him heavily, and there's no question that he'll do the job and do the job great."

Who to choose? Despite falling to 0-3 as a Red Sox starter Tuesday, Jason Johnson will get take the hill for Boston on Sunday against Tampa Bay. The move will keep Kyle Snyder, who picked up the win on Monday after pitching 4 1/3 innings of one-hit ball in long relief, in the bullpen. Johnson was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to replace Snyder as Tuesday's starter.

"I think that Snydes knows ... this is not a slap in the face, but actually more of a compliment," Francona said. "So, I think at least for the near future, that's what we'll do -- and we can always change it -- but that's I think the best way for us to win games in the next handful of games."

Snyder has been up and down since his acquisition from Kansas City on June 16, going 3-2 with a 6.00 ERA, but Francona is confident he can work in any role needed.

"Anything. He can come in early and stay out there if he's getting outs. The game doesn't speed up on him," Francona said. "He's not afraid, so we can probably use him anywhere we want with the knowledge that if he's getting outs, he can always stay out there and get stretched out. What he did the other night that is the one thing we've been missing. That was welcome."

Missing from the mound: Rookie Manny Delcarmen, who has been bothered with irritation on the thumb of his throwing hand, should be ready to pitch Wednesday if needed. He has not pitched since July 28.

"He aggravated it throwing his breaking ball and it just was tender like on a tendon. He could've pitched the whole time, but he was letting his breaking ball stay up and it was hanging because it was bothering him," Francona said. "So we tried to give him some time off so he could go out there and throw and not be hanging it. I'm pretty confident today is gonna be the day where he says, 'I'm ready to go.'"

Fenway debut: Reliever Bryan Corey made his Red Sox debut Tuesday after being acquired July 31 from the Texas Rangers. He pitched one inning, allowing one run, on a solo home run to Joe Inglett.

"I actually thought he threw the ball pretty well. [His] velocity's pretty good [and he] threw a nice changeup. I think when it's all said and done, he's gonna be a welcome arm," Francona said. "How we use him, I'm not exactly sure yet. I think he got caught in Texas in a little bit of a numbers situation, because he was throwing the ball pretty well."

Coming up: Josh Beckett, (13-5, 4.76 ERA) will make the start for Boston against right-hander Jake Westbrook (7-7, 4.31 ERA) and the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night at Fenway Park.

Howard Kussoy is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.