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09/29/10 1:30 AM ET

Varitek knows time in Boston may be ending

CHICAGO -- Of the 1,477 games that Jason Varitek has played in the Major Leagues, all of them have been with the Boston Red Sox. But he acknowledges that the memorable ride could be within days of ending.

The 38-year-old Varitek has made it clear that he will play next season and perhaps beyond, but he knows there's a very real chance the Red Sox won't deem him a fit.

"It's there," said Varitek. "It's obvious. You try not to think about it, and I hope you guys don't ask me too much about it over the weekend, but it's there -- it definitely is."

The Red Sox have Jarrod Saltalamacchia coming back, and it remains to be seen what happens with Victor Martinez, who is a free agent.

Varitek's career with the Red Sox has included eight postseason appearances over 13 seasons, including the franchise's first two World Series championships since 1918. This is one of those rare campaigns what will end with Varitek and his team serving as spectators throughout October. Boston was officially eliminated on Tuesday night.

"I'll just try and focus on what I've got to do," said Varitek. "It's been a long time [in Boston]."

Varitek has served as Boston's team captain since 2005.

He was the starting catcher for the Red Sox from 1999 until July 31, 2009, when Martinez was acquired from the Indians. Varitek has transitioned well to the backup role, and thinks it could prolong his career.

Saltalamacchia's prognosis good after surgery

CHICAGO -- Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair the UCL joint in his left thumb, and initial reports from Dr. Thomas Graham of the Cleveland Clinic were optimistic.

"[Trainer Mike Reinold] told me that he came through surgery fine," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He did have a tear. Pretty full tear, and that it was repaired, and that a report will be written up [soon]. He was still in recovery, but everything came out, according to the doctor, fine."

Saltalamacchia should be fully recovered by the start of Spring Training.

After being acquired by the Red Sox on July 31, he started out at Triple-A Pawtucket before being promoted to Boston on Aug. 11. Saltalamacchia played 10 games for the Red Sox, hitting .158 with no homers and one RBI.

Lopez makes debut with Red Sox

CHICAGO -- It is a little late in the season for a player to be making a debut with a new team, but such are the unique circumstances when it comes to Felipe Lopez and the Red Sox.

The veteran infielder, who was released on Sept. 21 after a falling out with the Cardinals, signed with Boston on Saturday. After spending his first three days as a spectator only, Lopez was in Red Sox manager Terry Francona's lineup for Tuesday night's game against the White Sox. He batted ninth and played second base.

Lopez went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in a 5-4 loss.

"I'm just excited to start today and try to have some fun and try to get a victory," Lopez said before the game.

There were issues of repeated tardiness that led to the Cardinals releasing a player they had high hopes for when the season began.

Lopez admits joining a team at this stage of the season has not been the most natural thing.

"Yeah, it seems strange, but the guys here have made it really comfortable," Lopez said. "I know a lot of people here, so I think playing against them and playing with them, that helps."

In 376 at-bats for the Cardinals, Lopez hit .231 with seven homers, 36 RBIs, eight stolen bases and a .310 on-base percentage. He appeared to be on the upswing last year, hitting .310 with nine homers, 57 RBIs and a .383 on-base percentage.

"I think it seems like a good night to play him," said Francona. "Hopefully let him get out there and get a couple of hits or let him steal a base and hopefully help us win. I didn't want him to come here and not play, that's no good."

Lopez projects as a Type B free agent, which means the Red Sox will get a compensatory Draft pick if he signs with another team over the winter.

Patterson to stay busy this winter

CHICAGO -- While the season is winding down for the Red Sox, Eric Patterson will start his back up soon.

The utility outfielder/infielder will play for Aguilas of the Dominican Winter League so he can get some more at-bats and get more comfortable at second base.

"Just the better he can play second, the better for him," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "A guy that runs that much, his ability to hit right-handers, we haven't always seen that yet because his appearances have been spotty with us, but his OPS vs. righties in his career has been pretty good."

Patterson started in center field for Boston on Tuesday, leading off. He went 0-for-3 with a walk in a 5-4 loss to the White Sox.

"I'm going to go to the Dominican and play for about a month or so, just to get some more ABs, maybe play some infield there, work on some things there," said Patterson. "It will be good. Obviously I haven't had a whole lot of ABs this year, so I've got to make them up somewhere. I'll go there for about a month -- I should get home right before Thanksgiving."

Patterson has played 41 games since joining the Red Sox in late June, hitting .243 with two homers and six RBIs.

"The guys on the team are awesome," Patterson said. "The staff is awesome. It wasn't really a big adjustment coming over. It was very welcoming. Such a great group of guys and there's definitely a lot of easy guys to get along with. It's been great."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.