Jason Varitek is close to returning to Boston on a one-year deal

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Face it Boston fans: Jason Varitek is going to be playing for the Sox until your grandkids have grandkids.  Peter Gammons just reported that the Sox is about to sign a $2 million contract.

You have to think that this means that Saltalamacchia is the starter and Varitek the backup, right? Of course that’s the case.  Except, man, if you’re Saltalamacchia, don’t you have to be a bit nervous? He’s not Victor Martinez, whose obviously superior talent kept in the starting slot no matter what happened. He’s a kid, still yet to realize his potential and about whom many questions have already been raised by the columnists and talk radio. I liken the dynamic to your girlfriend keeping her ex-boyfriend around for yard work purposes. She says she loves you, baby, but you can’t feel too secure about things.

Varitek is no longer a viable starter, but if Salty struggles, you know damn well people are going to cry out for the Captain to be behind the plate.  In the grand scheme of things this is a small problem — and there are about a zillion worse caddies for Salty to have than the guy who knows more about catching in Boston than anyone this side of Carlton Fisk — but really, you have to wonder when, if ever, the Sox are going to move away from Varitek.

DOJ settles antirust lawsuit against cable companies who don’t carry Dodgers games

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Last November, the U.S. Department of Justice sued AT&T, accusing its subsidiary, DirecTV, of being the ringleader in a plot in which it conspired with Cox Communications, Charter Communications and AT&T cable (then a separate company), to refuse to carry SportsNet LA, the Dodger-owned TV channel in violation of antitrust laws.

Now that lawsuit is over. The DOJ settled with AT&T last night.

The bad news: no part of the settlement obligates DirecTV or any of the other alleged co-conspirators to carry Dodgers games or to even negotiate to that end. There is likewise no fine or truly substantive penalty. It’s basically a “do not do this again!” agreement with some antitrust training requirements for executives and some orders to monitor their communications about these things.

“We are pleased to have resolved this matter to the satisfaction of all parties,” an AT&T spokesman said yesterday, likely in the tone of a guy who is pretty happy to have had a major antitrust suit against him settled so quickly.

When the suit was filed, I anticipated a settlement, as most antitrust suits brought by the DOJ are settled. Such a settlement could’ve featured a cash penalty or, more significantly, a brokered agreement between the parties in question in lieu of a cash settlement that could’ve led to Dodgers games being carried on more channels. After all, more competition is the end game of the Antirust Division.

As it is, however, it’s hard to see this as anything other than a surrender by the DOJ and a victory for the those carriers who coordinated their efforts to not carry the Dodgers.

An open question, unanswered in anyone’s statements yesterday, is whether this settlement is 100% about the merits of the case — keeping in mind that the DOJ tends not to file antitrust suits unless they think they can win, instead preferring to negotiate first — or whether it represents a new set of laxer priorities when it comes to antitrust enforcement from the Trump Administration and AG Jeff Sessions.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.