The Red Sox officially welcomed Jason Varitek back to the fold Thursday, and his title comes as no surprise. He’ll serve as a special assistant to the general manager, the team announced.
GM Ben Cherington said Varitek will be involved in “personnel decisions, evaluations, and mentorship and instruction of young players.”
Varitek retired this spring after 15 seasons with the Red Sox. A three-time All-Star and two-time World Series winner, he hit .256/.341/.435 with 193 homers and 757 RBI in 1,546 games. He likely has a future as a manager if he wants it, but this lesser role will allow him to be in baseball and still spend plenty of time with his family.
Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.
Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.
Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.