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.

Dodgers place Yu Darvish on 10-day disabled list with back tightness

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In a flurry of roster moves, the Dodgers placed Yu Darvish on the 10-day disabled list with back tightness, the team announced Saturday. Darvish was removed from his start on Wednesday after experiencing back pain and is expected to skip his scheduled start in Pittsburgh next Tuesday before returning to the roster. Left-hander Edward Paredes was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City in a corresponding move.

This is the first disabled list stint of the year for the 31-year-old right-hander, who exited Wednesday’s outing with a 3.83 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 9.9 SO/9 over 155 innings for the Dodgers and Rangers in 2017. Darvish told reporters that he felt comfortable continuing to pitch even after the diagnosis, but wanted to respect the team’s decision going forward.

The Dodgers have not officially announced Darvish’s replacement, but will likely turn to right-hander Brock Stewart for a spot start when they polish off their seven-game road trip next week. It’s been a rough weekend for the NL West leaders, who are still waiting on Clayton Kershaw‘s return and lost lefty reliever Grant Dayton to elbow discomfort on Friday.

Yankees oust Aroldis Chapman from the closer’s role

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The writing was on the wall, but the Yankees made it official on Saturday: Aroldis Chapman is no longer closing games for the Bronx Bombers. Comments from manager Joe Girardi suggested that the move is a temporary one, however, and he told reporters that Chapman will be utilized at “different points” in the game as the Yankees try to pinpoint the source of the left-hander’s struggles.

There’s no question that the flame-throwing southpaw has been off his game for a while, and his season 4.29 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 12.6 SO/9 hints at some of the issues he’s been facing. He imploded in each of his last three appearances, issuing a cumulative five hits, six runs and five strikeouts over just 3 1/3 innings. It seems plausible that the left rotator cuff inflammation that sidelined him several months ago has resurfaced, but the veteran lefty said Friday that he doesn’t believe any physical issues have caused his decline.

While Chapman works out the kinks in his mechanics, the Yankees will look to some combination of Dellin Betances and David Robertson to cover the ninth inning. Girardi wouldn’t commit to either reliever in the closer’s spot, however, and said he’d take it on a case-by-case basis depending on the match-ups in any given game. The long-term plan is still to reinstate Chapman, whenever that might make sense for the team.

“He’s been scuffling over the past 10 days, two weeks,” Girardi said. “I just thought for us to get him back on track, maybe the best way would be to move him around a little bit until he gets going. When we get him going like I believe he’ll get going, there’s a good chance I’ll put him right back in that closer’s role.”