All-around tough night for Varitek

All-around tough night for Varitek

NEW YORK -- His offense free-falling for the past two months, Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek can often compensate by helping on defense.

But Friday was one of those nights when Varitek seemed helpless, though not all of his own doing. New York stole seven bases on Varitek's watch, and Boston's pitching staff surrendered 14 hits in the Red Sox's 9-5 loss.

Meanwhile, Varitek went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and is hitting .124 since Aug. 1 and .208 on the season.

"He's having a hard time," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He's a tough kid. We made a lot of changes late, but we left him in because we wanted him to hit. He continues to work hard. It's not always easy. You do the best you can. You keep plugging away. You know he'll do that."

While Varitek -- Boston's 37-year-old captain -- has a neck injury that has bothered him since at least June, he refused to make any excuses.

"We'll deal with that at the end of the year," said Varitek. "I think, minus today, at times, I think I've had good at-bats. I had good at-bats in Baltimore, I had good at-bats in KC. Today, I didn't have as good of at-bats. I've got to try and stick with the process as much as I can and help this team when I can."

As for New York's running game, that was led by Alex Rodriguez (three stolen bases), Derek Jeter (two steals), Johnny Damon (one) and Robinson Cano (one).

Francona indicated that the barrage of steals had little to do with Varitek.

"Well, with the left-hander [pitching], they go first move," Francona said. "There's not a lot the catcher can do there."

Varitek didn't think there was much he could do to stop the Yankees' speedsters. He said New York didn't catch him off-guard.

Running on empty
Jason Varitek's struggles of throwing out baserunners continued Friday night, as the Yankees stole a season-high seven bases. Overall, Boston has allowed a Major League-leading 148 steals, with catcher Jason Varitek allowing an MLB-leading 107 of those steals.
Jason VaritekRed Sox107
A.J. PierzynskiWhite Sox99
Bengie MolinaGiants85
John BakerMarlins79

"No, we know Jeter will run, we know Alex will run. We know some of the guys that will run, so, no," said Varitek. "The only thing I can do is try to make a good throw. A couple of balls bounced and I had to jump for ball, but I made a good throw on the last one. You just have to try to stay within your game as much as you can."

Friday was simply one of those games Varitek would like to forget.

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