Red Sox

Red Sox finish first in consecutive seasons for third time in their history

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Red Sox finish first in consecutive seasons for third time in their history

So what do John Farrell, Bill Carrigan and Jimmy Collins have in common?

The same thing Cy Young, Babe Ruth and Mookie Betts have in common.

They're all members of the only three Red Sox teams to ever -- as in ever -- finish first in two consecutive seasons.

It's true: In their 117-year history, the Red Sox have finished first in back-to-back seasons only three times -- 1903-04 (that was the team managed by Collins, with Young as the ace pitcher), 1915-16 (managed by Carrigan, with The Babe as a budding star) and, now, 2016-17. (No need to mention Farrell and Betts, since you're probably familiar with them.)

The 1903 Red Sox won the World Series -- the first Series ever played -- but didn't get a chance to defend their title: In 1904, the National League champion New York Giants refused to participate. The American League was only four years old at the time and there was no umbrella organization known as Major League Baseball. The A.L. champ would challenge the N.L. champ at the end of each season, and '03 was the first time the N.L. champ -- the Pittsburgh Pirates -- picked up the gauntlet. After the Sox beat Pittsburgh, the Giants said no thanks the following season. (From 1905 forward, however, there was a World Series every year . . . except for 1994, when it was canceled by a strike.)

In 1915 and '16 the Sox also won back-to-back World Series for the only time in their history, beating the Phillies in '15 and the Brooklyn Dodgers in '16.

They won't get the chance to do that this year because, obviously, they didn't win the World Series in 2016. But this season's already notable: After all, it's been more than 100 years since they've finished first for two straight years.

However: 

Thanks to the expanded postseason field, they've made the playoffs in consecutive seasons three other times: 1998-99, 2003-05 and 2007-09. The only division title in that span was in 2007; every other year, they were the A.L. wild card.

Source: Martinez's immediate readiness to play not in question; medical experts involved

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Source: Martinez's immediate readiness to play not in question; medical experts involved

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- J.D. Martinez and the Red Sox are indeed sorting through a medical matter, but one that a baseball source with knowledge of the situation said would not have any effect on Martinez in the immediate future. It's unclear what the specific issue is, but a better understanding between the parties could come as early as Saturday.

"I imagine that today is a day that we could have some definition," the source said.

Martinez can opt out over two years, in which he would make as much as $50 million, per the originally agreed upon deal. Naturally, a priority for the Red Sox is to be sure that any potentially latent issue would remain just that, latent, for not only two years but the potential five years of the deal.

Additional medical experts have been involved as the Red Sox and Martinez sort out the issue, including experts consulted on agent Scott Boras' referral, not only the team's. The process was described as thorough and cooperative.

Delay in J.D. Martinez's introduction suggests complication in medical review

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File photo

Delay in J.D. Martinez's introduction suggests complication in medical review

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- They’re leaving us to speculate now.

Sox manager Alex Cora said essentially nothing Friday about J.D. Martinez’s unfinished contract, a five-year, $110 million pact that was in the medical-review process. 

“I’m not concerned. I’m not concerned. I’m just  -- the thing I can do is do my thing,” Cora said Friday. “My job here is to show up every day and get ‘em ready.”

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Cora’s statement that he is not concerned appeared less an assessment of Martinez's direct situation and more a reinforcement of Cora’s larger point: He is not going to publicly engage the topic as the field manager.

Cora said he was unsure if Martinez was still in Fort Myers. Here's guessing Cora really does know. But, this is traditionally a front-office matter. 

Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and Martinez’s agent, Scott Boras, both have made comments about the process this week. Not on Friday, however. On Friday, they went silent. 

So let’s consider what we know, and what it could mean.

Multiple times this week, the media waited at JetBlue Park because there was a belief a press conference was imminent. Terms were agreed to Monday. We’re about to enter Saturday without a press conference. We know for a fact the Sox and Martinez were still going through the medical process as of Thursday.

Added up, everything is highly suggestive of some sort of complication during J.D. Martinez’s medical review. What is impossible to know is the impact of any potential complication. 

The original agreement could go through completely and totally untouched. A contract could be revised in a slight way or a larger way. Other doctor visits could be arranged, and indeed, probably have been. 

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A complication does not mean a contract will fall apart. That would be a wildly unexpected scenario. 

Rather, it could mean the sides once again dig in. The Red Sox have doctors, and so too does Boras. Sometimes, there are differing medical opinions.

And it would be strange if there wasn't some medical concern.

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Scheduling or a similar matter may have contributed in slowing down this process. But by now, with a nine-figure investment at stake -- plus the involvement of top doctors and a major league baseball team -- it’s hard to imagine what logistical issue could exist. They have email for records, they have planes for visits.

Everyone else has little in the way of answers.

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