NEW YORK -- Catcher Jason Varitek, who was hit by a pitch by Yankee starter Ivan Nova in the right knee in Sunday night’s game and came out two innings later, is questionable for Monday night’s game against the Orioles.
The implications? Josh Beckett is pitching, and Varitek is Beckett’s personal security blanket, having caught each of his last 28 starts. Jarrod Saltalamacchia caught Beckett’s first start of the season, April 5 in Cleveland, back in the days when manager Terry Francona said he wasn’t subscribing to the notion of personal catchers.
Beckett gave up 3 runs on 5 hits and 4 walks in 5 innings against the Tribe, and Varitek has behind the plate for him ever since.
Francona said he wasn’t sure if Varitek would be a go Monday. “He got hit pretty hard,’’ Francona said. “He’s sore. We’ll see how he bounces back. We’ll see how he’s doing.’’
Saltalamacchia, meanwhile, is coming off a grueling day of catching 16 innings of baseball, eight in each game, including four harrowing innings of catching knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in Game 1 , an exhausting exercise both mentally and physically. The first inning alone was daunting, as the first two Yankees bunted for hits, there were two stolen bases, two walks, a passed ball, a wild pitch, and a weird error by the catcher, when Saltalamacchia lost his grip on the ball making the transfer from his glove to his throwing hand. The ball rolled to the backstop as a run scored.
But Saltalamacchia will be behind the plate Monday night if needed, Francona said.
“He can rest later,’’ the manager said.
Beckett, meanwhile, was also awaiting the birth of his first child, with his wife, Holly, due any day.
The Orioles have been anything but an easy mark for Beckett this season. He has allowed 13 earned runs in 18 1/3 innings against the Orioles, his 6.38 ERA against Baltimore his highest against any opponent. His last start, last Wednesday in Fenway Park, he gave up two tape-measure home runs to Mark Reynolds, and left a tie game with two runners aboard in the eighth inning, taking the loss when Vladi Guerrero singled them both home against reliever Alfredo Aceves.