Jason Varitek has officially announced his retirement, bringing to an end a beloved 15-year career with the Boston Red Sox.
Varitek made the announcement Thursday night at the team’s spring training facility in Fort Myers. Many of his teammates, his parents, Red Sox ownership and his wife and three daughters attended.
Varitek says he grappled with the decision for a long time. The Red Sox offered the 39-year-old a chance to come to camp on a minor-league contract, but he declined. He said “the hardest thing to do is walk away from your teammates.”
The captain helped lead the Red Sox to two World Series titles. He caught a record four no-hitters and played in three All-Star games.
RAYS -- Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria was hit by a pitch during an intrasquad game and has a bruised right hand.
The Rays said precautionary X-rays were negative. The three-time All-Star third baseman was struck by a pitch thrown by reliever Matt Bush.
CARDINALS -- St. Louis made certain another big star did not get away.
Four-time Gold Glove catcher Yadier Molina agreed to a five-year, $75 million contract that kicks in next season and will keep him in St. Louis through the 2017 season. The deal makes Molina the second-highest paid catcher in the majors behind Minnesota’s Joe Mauer.
WILD CARDS -- Negotiators for baseball players and owners say there is no set deadline for an agreement to expand the playoffs to 10 teams this season.
The sides have said for weeks a deal is likely. When players and owners signed their agreement for a new labor contract in November, the section covering the postseason established a March 1 goal for deciding whether the playoffs would increase by two teams for 2012 or 2013.
YANKEES -- New York managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner wants to lower the team’s payroll to $189 million over the next few years. Under baseball’s new labor contract, the luxury tax threshold will be at $189 million after the 2013 season.
INDIANS -- Grady Sizemore will start the season in a familiar spot -- on the disabled list. The oft-injured Cleveland outfielder is expected to miss eight to 12 weeks with a back injury.
METS -- Ace Johan Santana faced hitters for the first time since tossing four innings in an Instructional League game Sept. 30.
BREWERS -- Ryan Braun’s lawyer criticized the lengthy statement from the person who collected the slugger’s drug sample, saying the NL MVP “was properly vindicated.”