Why Jason Varitek went all-in on umpiring Thursday

Rob Bradford
July 10, 2020 - 9:13 am
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When word came down that Jason Varitek would be umpiring the Red Sox' intrasquad scrimmage Thursday it was assumed the participation was going to be like you see in most other scrimmages: Calling balls and strikes from behind the pitcher.

Nope.

Varitek arrived in full Major League Baseball umpiring garb, planting himself in a crouched position right behind each of the Red Sox' catchers.

So why did the former catcher go to such lengths? With only a few weeks before the 60-game regular season, it has become important to simulate everything at every turn.

"Varitek looked like a regular umpire. I forgot, actually. I had to do a double-take and saw it was him. He actually did a nice job umpiring," noted Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke.

"He volunteered for it. We were talking about how to do this right. He said he thought it was important to get as close as possible to a real game. ... I think the more times a pitcher can see a more realistic view, that is better it is for them, just like I thought it was more important to have an infield behind them than worried about the outfield."

As for Varitek's performance, he got rave reviews from the person who could have been his harshest critic, the pitcher.

“I thought he did good. I liked it," said Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi. "I liked having him behind the plate, I felt like he was making some really good calls for me."