Girardi has praise for Varitek

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The big news around the clubhouse on Tuesday morning at JetBlue Park at Fenway South was the pending retirement of veteran catcher Jason Varitek.

Red Sox players spoke glowingly of their now former teammate, as did new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine.

About two hours north on Interstate 75 in Tampa, New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi also discussed Varitek’s career.

“He was a big part of their club, the way he ran that pitching staff and being a switch hitter that produced offensively,” Girardi told reporters. “I thought he was a big part of their club, just like Jorge [Posada] was. The unfortunate thing is, when you have great players like that, the unfortunate thing is they get older. You can’t keep them 25, 26 their whole career because we all love having them around.”

When asked to describe Varitek as a catcher, Girardi said: “Outstanding. Very smart back there. Good defensive catcher. Really knew how to handle a pitching staff.”