Jason Varitek is retiring

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This is not surprising given all of the rumblings we’ve heard, but it’s going to be official as of Thursday: Jason Varitek is retiring.  He told the Boston Globe that he will announce it formally in Fort Myers that day.

The end was certainly nigh.  Varitek turns 40 in April. He hit .221/.300/.423 with 11 home runs, 36 RBIs and a .723 OPS over 68 games last season, with basically negative defensive value.  For his career, however, he hit .256/.341/.435 with 193 home runs and 757 RBIs.  He was a three-time All-Star.  He won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award in 2005.  He got a couple of MVP votes along the way.

But more significant is the leadership role he played with the Red Sox teams that will always be remembered for breaking the 86-year World Series drought. And because of that, Varitek’s stature in the team’s history will always be greater than even his considerable stature the pure baseball merits warrant.

Happy trails, Mr. Varitek.  Baseball was better for your being a part of it.

Video: J.D. Martinez hits league-tying 23rd home run

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.

In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.

The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.