Jason Varitek: Red Sox job 'close'

BOSTON -- Former Boston Red Sox captain Jason Varitek, at Fenway Park for ceremonies honoring the 2004 World Series champions, said Tuesday he is "close" to taking a new job with the team, but barring a major change of plans, it does not appear it will be as manager.

Varitek, whose name has surfaced in speculation regarding a possible successor to manager Bobby Valentine, dodged a question about whether he is interested in managing.

"Why are you asking me that?" Varitek said. "You think I'm going to answer that question right now? I'm not going to answer that question."

Varitek did say that just as the team had pledged during spring training, he plans to go back to work for the Red Sox.

"We're working on it," he said. "We're close to having something. I'll be involved."

A club source confirmed the team is close to bringing Varitek on board, but offered no further details.

A baseball source with direct knowledge of the talks between Varitek and the Red Sox said he is likely to be named a special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington, a role in which Varitek will be encouraged to learn the Red Sox system from top to bottom and be involved in a variety of areas, including player development and talent evaluation.

The day may come when Varitek will want to try his hand at managing, the source said, but for now he is committed to spending more time with his family. Varitek's wife, Catherine, tweeted this reply to a fan asking if Varitek might manage the Red Sox: "I think he'd be great. BUT... Sorry, going to Greece next summer. He's a bit tied up."

"Would it be a great move?" the source said. "Yes. Do I see it happening? No. Do I think it intrigues him? Absolutely. Is he qualified? Absolutely. Would he enjoy it? Absolutely. But does he want to be manager now? I don't think so. I think Jason will be in the mix for manager in the future, but I think they want to set him up for success. That could change, I suppose, but I don't think so."

Varitek, 40, retired this spring after 15 years in the big leagues, all with the Red Sox, and was an integral part of teams that won World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. Despite the fact he has no previous experience as a coach or manager, he has been mentioned as a possible candidate if the Red Sox fire Valentine after the season. The White Sox (Robin Ventura) and Cardinals (Mike Matheny) both hired managers with no experience, and both are in the playoff hunt.

Teammates from the '04 team endorsed Varitek as manager material for the Red Sox.

Keith Foulke said, "Absolutely."

"A no-brainer, if you ask me," David McCarty said. "Players would respect him instantly. He's the kind of guy that's always prepared and has a great work ethic. I think he'd be perfect. Matheny, Ventura, both guys stepped right in. I don't think (experience) is a necessity. It certainly helps, but Jason is a guy who knows the game, especially being a catcher. He knows pitching, he knows hitting, he knows all aspects of the game."

Pedro Martinez said, "He has the makeup, but I don't know how long he would need to prepare for it."

Kevin Millar, not surprisingly, was the most expansive.

"It takes only one person to believe in him," Millar said. "One person believed in Theo (Epstein), and he was the best thing since sliced bread. A 28-year-old Jewish kid, and one person believed in him. Matheny, Ventura are proof you don't have to be a 72-year-old guy.

"What's the worst that can happen? It doesn't work. Tek's such a great leader. He's got that fire, he's like Johnny Unitas. That's my nickname for him. Old flat-top. He has a great presence. Is it too soon? I don't know, but if I think he's the right guy, I bring him in.

"My thing has always been a little different. You have to spend 10 years in A ball? Really? Or are you managing human beings? You're not managing the hit-and-run and bunt, you're managing people."

Another former Red Sox player whose name has been mentioned as future manager material is Mike Lowell, who has been touted as a possible successor to Ozzie Guillen in Miami if the Marlins decide to make a change. Lowell works as a part-time analyst on the MLB Network. "I think he'd be terrific," said Millar. "But he might be too rich to become a manager. There's always that."

The Red Sox have said they will hold off on a decision on Valentine until after the season, but one club source did not rule out Lowell or Varitek as candidates.

Another newcomer who could come into play is Brad Ausmus, the long-time catcher and Dartmouth alum. His name already has been discussed by the Red Sox, according to one source.

Toronto manager John Farrell was pursued last year by the Red Sox and remains an attractive candidate, but it remains an open question whether the Blue Jays would let him go -- and if so, at what price in terms of compensation.

An internal candidate could be Red Sox bench coach Tim Bogar, who has been identified as a favorite for the Houston Astros managerial job. Bogar, who coached with Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay before coming to the Red Sox and has managed in the minors, has the kind of affinity for statistical analysis that would appeal to the Sox and enjoys the respect of players.

The question is whether Bogar's candidacy will be tainted from being on Valentine's staff this season and on Terry Francona's staff during last September's collapse. An advantage Bogar would bring is his knowledge of the organization, plus he would still bring the dynamic of relative youth (he's 45) and managerial experience.