Ryan Lavarnway Overcomes Stomach Virus, ‘Embracing the Challenge’ of Winning a Job

by NESN Staff

January 21, 2012

Ryan Lavarnway Overcomes Stomach Virus, 'Embracing the Challenge' of Winning a JobBOSTON — When the Red Sox signed Kelly Shoppach in December, it didn't just affect Jason Varitek's future. The acquisition presumably halted Ryan Lavarnway's ascension to the majors.

With Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Shoppach slotted to catch, Lavarnway's status with the Red Sox remains at the mercy of the staff. Before the 73rd Boston Baseball Writer's dinner on Thursday, Lavarnway said he wasn't daunted by the competition.

"Until you sign a long-term contract in the major leagues, essentially your whole career is in limbo," Lavarnway told NESN.com. "At any point in the minor leagues, you can be sent up or sent down, so it?s something that I've gotten used to. I'm embracing the challenge."

A rollercoaster offseason has fortified the 24-year-old more. After traveling to Venezuela for winter ball, Lavarnway contracted a stomach virus and wound up losing 20 pounds in eight days. The ailment forced him to return to the U.S.

As a result of the lack of playing time, Lavarnway is flying down to Fort Myers on Feb. 1 to participate in Camp Tuck — the annual workout that catching instructor Gary Tuck organizes for catchers.

The next point on Lavarnway's agenda is to become familiar with the Red Sox's current rotation, a routine the catcher didn?t master during his two games behind Boston?s backstop in 2011.

"I went to sleep the night before [the regular-season finale], thinking how I'd never caught [Jon] Lester before and what game I was going to call with him," Lavarnway said. "I was pleased with the way we worked together. I took away that I caught a pretty good game."

Now, Lavarnway wants to maintain that momentum at Camp Tuck. This isn't Lavarnway's first time partaking in Tuck's rigorous exercises. But considering the circumstances, he's approaching spring training with added focus.

"Last year, I went into spring training looking to get ready for my Double-A season," Lavarnway said. "This year, I'm looking to get ready to compete and play at the major league level whether it's the beginning of the year or sometime later."

Have a question for Didier Morais? Send it to him via Twitter at @DidierMorais  or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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