FORT MYERS, FLA. — Jason Varitek did not agree to become a special assistant to Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington for ceremonial reasons. After 15 years as a player, he had a sincere interest in learning another side of baseball.
In December, Varitek attended the winter meetings with Cherington and other front office staffers. Then he was in Boston five weeks later to speak at the team's rookie development camp. Now he is back in uniform for spring training, helping to instruct catchers.
Varitek will work in player development next month, guiding minor league players and then help the amateur scouting department prepare for the June draft.
At 40, Varitek is retired as a player. But his career as an executive may be just starting.
“I’m learning a lot of different areas, different avenues,” Varitek said Wednesday.
Several major league teams, most notably the World Series champion San Francisco Giants, have incorporated former major league players into their decision-making structure. That hasn’t been the case for the Red Sox in the last decade, but Cherington values the counsel of Varitek.
Pedro Martinez holds a similar position on Cherington’s staff. Tim Wakefield also has become involved.
Varitek has a hybrid role for now. He will spend some days in uniform, working directly with players, and others at a desk, offering his opinion about roster moves and organizational policy.
“I’m enjoying these days of being on the field because that’s what I’m most accustomed to,” he said. “But that learning process still has a lot of things to be involved with over the next six, eight months.”
Varitek has a wife and four daughters and a life he wants to lead with them. But the idea of playing a role with the Red Sox held appeal.
“I’ll go out to see some of our younger players. Maybe even to go out and see amateur players preceding the draft,” Varitek said. “There are pieces and parts in a lot of different areas.
“It’s a learning experience to understand the work that everybody does … The only reason I am here is just to help. It’s not to take anybody’s job or advance in somebody else’s job. It’s just to be helpful.”