BOSTON -- Jason Varitek and Jorge Posada have been worthy adversaries for many years. Varitek became a regular catcher for the Red Sox in 1998. Posada began catching the majority of Yankees games the same season.
Varitek was asked if he could appreciate the level of frustration Posada is feeling this season, having been relieved of his catching duties and turned into the team's regular DH, then dropped Saturday to the No. 9 spot in the batting order, a demotion he responded to by asking out of the lineup an hour before the game.
"We're dealing with a lot of speculation right now with the little bit I just heard,'' Varitek said. "I do know and respect what the man has done behind the plate for many, many years. Like I do with most things, I'm going to wait for the truth to come out and I'm not going to respond to something on hearsay.''
David Ortiz was more outspoken on the issue, saying the Yankees were doing a disservice to Posada by insisting that he serve as DH exclusively and no longer catch. "They’re doing that guy wrong. They’re doing him wrong,” Ortiz told reporters. “You know why? That guy, he is legendary right there in that organization. And dude, DH-ing sucks. DH-ing is not easy.''
Varitek came into Saturday's game hitting for a lower average (.154) than Posada (.165). But hitting out of the same No. 9 hole to which Posada had just been demoted before being asked out, Varitek had two key at-bats. He drew a four-pitch walk from left-hander CC Sabathia that loaded the bases just before Jacoby Ellsbury's two-run double that broke a scoreless tie in the fifth. He also singled home Mike Cameron in the seventh to make it 3-0 and scored ahead of Adrian Gonzalez's three-run home run that broke open the game in the seventh.
"He can still hit,'' winning pitcher Josh Beckett said. "I know people are writing him off, you know, but he can still hit. As long as he works the at-bat, I think that sets him up in a little better situation. He was facing a really tough guy today, with CC on the mound.''
Varitek's single also led to the ejection of Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who told plate umpire Mike Winters that Varitek should have been called out on a 2-and-2 breaking ball from Sabathia. Varitek had shaken his head "no" while laying off the pitch.
Varitek, who at 39 is the same age as Posada, managed to make light of his own struggles at the plate. When he was asked if he thought Gonzalez had a chance to win the triple crown, leading the league in home runs, RBIs and batting average, Varitek feigned confusion.
"Who, me?'' he said. "What are you laughing at?"