As Varitek contemplated his future, the possibility of returning to the Red Sox still enticed him. A minor-league contract with the Red Sox was on the table, prompting the catcher to continue practicing. And Varitek flaunted the battle scars to prove it.
"Yeah, look at my hands," Varitek said on Thursday, gesturing to his fingers.
In the end, he elected to retire. After 15 years, three All-Star appearances and two World Series titles, the longtime Red Sox captain closed the chapter on his playing career with more than a dozen of ex-teammates –– and Red Sox ownership –– in attendance.
With his parents, wife and three daughters accompanying him, an emotional Varitek emerged from the Green Monster at JetBlue Park, walked to the podium and officially announced his retirement.
"After months of deliberating what to do, I decided it’s best for me and my family that I retire," Varitek said. "But I retire a Red Sox. My decision to retire wasn’t something I took lightly in any sense of the word, nor was it something I wanted to do more than once."
"This has probably been the most difficult decision I've had to make in my career. But the opportunity to start and finish my major-league career in one place meant more to me, and that’s why I’m standing here today."
One by one, Varitek expressed his gratitude. From his Little League coach to the clubhouse attendants, the catcher singled out everyone who helped him achieve immortality as a Red Sox icon.
His image was fittingly plastered all over JetBlue Park. When Varitek trotted to field, the Green Monster spelled out his name. The video board also displayed an image with the words “Thank You Jason.”
Red Sox chairman Tom Werner lauded Varitek for guiding the Red Sox past its 86-year championship drought and onto more success.
"It's a statement to earn the C as captain as you lead your team to two historic and remarkable world championships,” Werner said. "Jason, you have not only been our captain, but you've been our rock. You have personified the rugged, fiercely competitive style of play that has characterized our club during your tenure."
But Varitek became especially emotional when addressing Red Sox catching instructor Gary Tuck. He credited Tuck for propelling him forward despite diminishing skills and a reduced role.
From agent Scott Boras’ perspective, the close bond between Varitek and Tuck played an integral role in the captain’s decision to forgo opportunities with other clubs and retire a Red Sox.
"That’s what his peers know him as, a Boston Red Sox," Boras said. "It was something more than a uniform, a job or a place. For him, it was part of the fabric. I think his relationship with Gary was something that had a lot to do with him wanting to have that be part of his career."
He hasn’t quite adapted to retirement yet. Even as Varitek strolled into JetBlue Park, he struggled to grasp the reality of his new life.
"As I start seeing all the guys and everyone coming over, it’s just weird," Varitek said. "You have a burn, you have a desire. It wasn’t something that snapped in my mind overnight and knew I wasn’t going to play. I loved the competition on the field. The chess game behind the plate."
With his newfound spare time, Varitek intends to spend more time catering to his three daughters. The catcher said driving them to soccer and tennis practices would become a regular occurrence.
But he didn’t rule out a role within the Red Sox organization. During his session with reporters, Varitek acknowledged that both sides have continued discussions. Either way, Boras foresees a bright future in coaching for his client.
"This man has a touch," Boras said. "He has a method –– and it applied to a wide variety of pitchers –– with his leadership. He seems to get each different personality, each different type whether it be a power pitcher or control [pitcher], he seems to get the best out of all of them."
As the only catcher in history to call four no-hitters, Varitek’s résumé supports that assertion. When Joseph Varitek was raising Jason, the mere thought of his son’s national impact was inconceivable.
"Those are hard things to imagine," Joseph Varitek said. "Those are dreams you want to have and we’re blessed that his came true."
Surrendering that dream proved to be trying for Varitek. In recent weeks and months, he routinely sought advice from his father, former players and Boras on how to proceed with his future.
Until the very end, Jason Varitek deliberated. But finally, after much self-evaluation, the third captain in Red Sox history came to grips with his decision.
"As I walk away from this game, I can look at the man in the mirror and be proud I gave everything I could to this game, this organization, my teammates," Varitek said. "Once again, I just want to say thank you."
And just like that, he walked away.