Varitek makes it official; rejoins Red Sox

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varitek2.jpgJason Varitek will be back with the Red Sox for a 14th season in 2010 after exercising his $3 million player option on Wednesday.
Varitek knew he wouldn’t do any better financially as a free agent, but he might have been able to find more playing time elsewhere. The Red Sox have already started that Victor Martinez will be used as a regular catcher next season.
Forgotten in all of Varitek’s late-season struggles was that Boston’s captain was one of the AL’s top offensive catchers for four months. He hit .236/.345/.453 before Martinez’s acquisition on July 31 resulted in a reduced role. From that point on, he was truly dreadful, coming in at .135/.233/.250 in August and .125/.185/.150 in 40 at-bats in September. The Red Sox never used him while being swept by the Angels in the ALDS.
The Red Sox figure to use Varitek primarily against lefties in 2010. While the plan is for Martinez to get most of his starts at catcher, it will still make sense to use him at DH or first base once per week or so. The switch-hitting Varitek has had an OPS over 800 against southpaws each of the last three years. DH David Ortiz, on the other hand, has declined from 852 in 2007 to 741 in 2008 and 716 in 2009.

Madison Bumgarner diagnosed with fractured left hand

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Giants ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner sustained a displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal of his left hand on Friday. He’ll undergo surgery on Saturday to insert pins in his pinky knuckle, a procedure that could require a four-to-six-week recovery period before he’s cleared to throw again. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Bumgarner’s total recovery time is expected to take 6-8 weeks. In a best-case scenario, the lefty said he should be able to pitch again before the All-Star break, but given the amount of time and care it’ll take for him to shoulder a full workload, it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to do so.

Bumgarner suffered the fracture during the third inning of Friday’s Cactus League game against the Royals. Whit Merrifield returned a line drive up the middle and the ball deflected off the top of Bumgarner’s pitching hand before bouncing into the infield. He chased after the ball but was unable to pick it up, and was immediately visited by manager Bruce Bochy and a team trainer before exiting the game.

The 28-year-old southpaw was gearing up for a massive comeback after losing significant playing time with an injury in 2017. During his tumultuous run with the Giants last year, he missed nearly three months on the disabled list after spraining his shoulder and bruising his ribs in a dirt bike accident. He finished the season with a 4-9 record in 17 starts and a 3.32 ERA (his first 3.00+ ERA since 2012), 1.6 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 111 innings. Without him, the Giants suffered as well; by season’s end, their pitching staff ranked seventh-worst in the National League with a cumulative 4.58 ERA and 10.1 fWAR.

This is the second massive injury the Giants’ rotation has sustained this week after right-hander Jeff Samardzija was diagnosed with a strained pectoral muscle on Thursday. “Horrible news for us,” Bochy told reporters after Friday’s game. “That’s all you can say about it. There’s nothing you can do but push on.”