Turns out, Varitek is playing as much as many starters.
With right-hander Clay Buchholz on the mound Tuesday night in the series opener against the Baltimore Orioles, Francona gave the nod to Varitek over projected starter Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Varitek also is likely to start Wednesday night with right-hander Josh Beckett on the mound, and he has been playing whenever Daisuke Matsuzaka starts, too.
"He's been catching so well," Francona said of the Red Sox' 39-year-old captain. "Right-handed is where he should play. I know he hasn't swung the bat yet. We're playing pretty well with both (catchers). But we had a hole to dig ourselves out of, and sometimes to play guys to help us win right now is important."
Francona said the move was "no knock" against Saltalamacchia, who struggled early in the season but has had success recently when catching Jon Lester and John Lackey. For now, it seems he will continue to be paired with them.
Entering Tuesday night, Red Sox pitchers had a 2.07 ERA when working with Varitek, a 6.14 ERA when working with Saltalamacchia. Overall, though, Red Sox starters recently have been effective when throwing to both catchers, posting a 0.88 ERA over nine games before the 4-1 loss at Baltimore on Tuesday.
Varitek has been a supporter of Saltalamacchia, believing the 25-year-old catcher will become increasingly comfortable behind the plate with every game he plays.
"We're a team," Varitek said. "We're going to go out and do whatever we need to do. If it means catching Beckett, fine. If it means catching Dice sometimes, fine. We're a team. It may be catching (Buchholz). It may be catching (John) Lackey. We have to mix and match and do the things that help this team give ourselves the best chance to win."
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