Bobby V. lauds Varitek: He 'beat up Alex'

Any photo retrospective of Jason Varitek's career in Boston has to start with him shoving his mitt in Alex Rodriguez's face to spark a 2004 brawl. Jim Rogash/WireImage

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Bobby Valentine had already tweaked one Yankee, Derek Jeter, in his media session Tuesday. He then took the opportunity to poke another when asked to assess Jason Varitek, the Sox catcher who will retire Thursday.

“From afar, he was everything you want a guy who wears a ‘C’ to be,’’ Valentine said. “He was a man’s man, he was a big hitter when needed, he was the leader of the pitching staff. (Pause). He was able to beat up Alex, all that stuff. He was exactly what he was supposed to be.’’

Alex, of course, is Alex Rodriguez, and Valentine was referring to the July 2004 episode in which Varitek gave A-Rod a facial with his catcher’s mitt and bare hand, which is an iconic photo for many Red Sox fans. (Feeling nostalgic? You can buy a poster-size version of it here.)

Yankee fans, of course, have always viewed Varitek's actions in that fight through a different prism: Namely, if he was such a tough guy, why didn't he take off his mask before mixing it up with A-Rod?

Here's the video of Valentine's comments about Varitek: