Baseball is back! Here at Big League Stew, we'll take a quick dash around the league each morning in an attempt to keep you updated on all the springtime storylines.
After appearing in nearly 1,600 games, hitting nearly 200 home runs, winning two World Series with the Red Sox and being on the receiving end of a major-league record four no-hitters, Jason Varitek will not return for a 15th major-league season with the Boston Red Sox.
The Boston Globe broke the story Monday night. Varitek will make the announcement at JetBlue Park, Boston's spring home in Fort Myers, Fla., on Thursday:
It will come 12 days after righthander Tim Wakefield retired from the Red Sox, ending his 17-year career.
Like Wakefield, Varitek was offered a minor-league contract and an invitation to spring training. But without any guarantees of making the team, he elected to retire instead.
Varitek, who turns 40 in April, will leave behind a legacy few can match. He hit .256 with 193 home runs and 757 RBIs in his career, was a three-time All-Star and won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger in 2005. Varitek was ninth in team history with 1,546 games and had the most games for a catcher.
He also caught five one-hitters. Reporter Alex Speier, who covers the Red Sox for WEEI radio, published a terrific reminder of what the Varitek/Derek Lowe trade with the Seattle Mariners in 1997 meant for Boston's franchise. Then there's this anecdote from Michael Hurley on Twitter, recalling that Varitek went 0 for 34 at Yankee Stadium in 2004 before going 7 for 16 there during the infamous comeback ALCS.
• The Texas Rangers have set their pitching rotation for the start of spring training, and import Yu Darvish will start March 7 against the San Diego Padres in Peoria, Ariz., ESPN Dallas says. Expect over-the-top, in-person Big League Stew coverage.
• Seven bidders remain alive (figuratively) for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and they include NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, writes the Associated Press. Current owner Frank McCourt stands to get between $1 billion and $1.5 billion once the process concludes. He bought the team for $430 million in 2004.
• Don't call it a "setback"! says the Philadelphia Phillies trainer — Ryan Howard's leg is merely adjusting to the sutures from his Achilles' tendon surgery, via the Philadelphia Inquirer.
• Brutal news for Scott Sizemore and the Oakland Athletics: He's out of the the season with a torn ACL in his left knee. He got injured in the A's first full-squad workout of spring during an infield drill. The A's aren't sure who will replace him.