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Reduced role not in Varitek's plans

Reduced role not in Varitek's plans

BOSTON -- While reiterating his statements from a day earlier that negotiations have not started in any formal nature between the Red Sox and free-agent catcher Jason Varitek, agent Scott Boras wanted to make something else clear with regard to his client.

"Jason Varitek intends on being a full-time player for many years to come," Boras said. "He's in great shape. His defense, his game-calling skills, his leadership skills are extraordinary and at the highest level. There's no catcher that has a higher win-loss percentage starting a game than Jason Varitek. Any reports of anyone saying otherwise are inaccurate."

By "otherwise," Boras was referring to suggestions that Varitek would consider taking a reduced role, be it with the Red Sox or another team.

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Some recent reports have suggested that the Red Sox would be more in favor of bringing Varitek back if there was the expectation that he would play less.

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein hasn't made any public comments about Varitek since the day after Boston was eliminated in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. Epstein, who makes it a constant practice not to discuss trade or free-agent negotiations, declined to comment on Tuesday.

"Jason's an important guy here, and we'll sit down and explore if there's a way for him to come back that will help be a positive solution for our catching situation," Epstein said on Oct. 20. "If there is, I'm sure he'll end up coming back."

Varitek played 131 games in 2008, 120 of which were starts. In the last seven seasons, Varitek has logged less than 120 starts just once, and that was in the injury-shortened '06 campaign.

Last week, former Red Sox right-hander Curt Schilling said that he had a conversation with Varitek in which Boston's captain since 2005 confided that he might be willing to catch less games and, according to Schilling, "I'm not sure he's mad about that."

But according to Boras, who has represented Varitek since 1993, that is not his client's mind-set.

"Jason wants to catch every day; he wants to play every day," Boras said. "He has a lot more left in his career."

What about Varitek's offensive dip in 2008, which saw the switch-hitter produce a .220 average, 13 homers, 43 RBIs and a .359 slugging percentage?

"I use the example of [Carlton] Fisk and Bob Boone," Boras said. "It must be a 36-year-old thing for catchers, because those men, at 40, hit .280. We all know that you can ride through slumps and go through things and get better. As far as his defense goes, and game-calling and leadership, it's been extraordinary. He made the All-Star team [in 2008]."

In 1984, when Boone was 36, he hit .202 with a .262 slugging percentage. Four seasons later, Boone, at the age of 40, hit .288, albeit in 352 at-bats.

Fisk, a Hall of Famer, was also 36 during the 1984 season, when he hit .231. In Fisk's case, he rebounded dramatically in 1985, belting 37 homers and driving in 107. In 1990, the 42-year-old Fisk was still playing at a high enough level to hit .285.

Of course, each player is his own entity, which will make it interesting to see what Varitek does in the years ahead, be it in Boston or somewhere else.

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In the winter following the 2004 season, the Red Sox re-signed Varitek on Christmas Eve. Does Boras have a timetable for cutting a deal for Varitek this time around?

"I don't write checks," Boras said. "There's nothing about a Boras timetable because Boras is not a franchise. I work for players and I negotiate and I can't ever determine when the time of the negotiating is because it's something that teams let me know about."

The Red Sox are also said to have plenty of interest in another client of Boras, that being slugging first baseman Mark Teixeira.

Where do things stand in the Teixeira sweepstakes?

"We're going through the process," Boras said. "We're meeting with owners. We're talking with teams. We're giving him a good landscape of everything."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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