Red Sox

Red Sox ready for the challenge of repeating as World Series champions

Red Sox ready for the challenge of repeating as World Series champions

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Like a worn, scratchy old record, the question of how the Red Sox can win another World Series is on repeat. They hear it constantly, over and over.

No one's done it since the Yankees, who won three straight from 1998-2000. Manager Alex Cora, however, feels these Sox are built to handle the pressure. 

“We know where we play. The challenge of going out there and performing for this fan base and the media and everybody else is what gets us going.”

Cora also knows there are certain things you can’t control, like the health of a team. When he was asked about the 2008 Red Sox, who missed a chance to repeat when they lost the ALCS in seven games to Tampa Bay, Cora quickly pointed out that team was hurt. 

“Mikey (Mike Lowell) wasn’t playing. [Mark] Kotsay had to play first. [Sean] Casey was on one leg. Josh [Beckett] was banged up. Pap (Jonathan Papelbon) was banged up.”

Nathan Eovaldi, who secured cult status with his marathon relief stint in Game 3 of the World Series, knows banged-up bodies are the one thing that can derail another championship.

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“Everybody has to stay healthy, that’s the biggest thing,” said Evoaldi, “Getting overused at the beginning, like we talked about earlier, everybody is going to need to contribute.

Blake Swihart added: “I think just how long we play and that extra month of playing time. In the long run we want to play that extra month, but you lose a month of workouts and training.”

Which is why many of the players in the clubhouse adjusted their offseason routine. That's easier said than done for someone like Eovaldi, who's known for his work ethic. 

“It’s definitely hard for me," Eovaldi admitted. “I’ve thrown a couple bullpens and I’m frustrated with where I’m at right now. I have to keep reminding myself it’s a long time before the season starts.”

Swihart worked with a UFC trainer who monitored not only his workouts, but his rest. 

“You are still tired today, you are still worn out," he said. "So we would go based off that. I think a lot of guys have been doing that, listening to their body and just trying to do as much that day without over training.”

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MLB's Top 100 players for 2020 season: Part 3, Numbers 50-26

MLB's Top 100 players for 2020 season: Part 3, Numbers 50-26

With MLB players and owners struggling to come to terms on a return-to-play strategy for 2020, we're focusing on the actual players who will take the field when games eventually get back underway.

Over the next several weeks, NBC Sports Boston is counting down the Top 100 players for 2020. While our list won't include several aces who will definitely not play this season — Noah Syndergaard of the Mets, Luis Severino of the Yankees, and Chris Sale of the Red Sox — our countdown includes many other All-Stars.

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Red Sox closer Brandon Workman kicked off our list at No. 100, and our next group of 25 players included Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez.

As we continue our countdown and move into the Top 50, we find J.D. Martinez, who has broken out into a feared hitter after a slow start to his career. Released by the Astros before the 2014 season, he remade his approach, flourished with the Tigers and now has made back-to-back All-Star teams with the Sox. 

Now 32, he's an established veteran, but it's also possible the late bloomer is only early in his prime years. So where does he land on our Top 100?

Click here for Part 3 of our countdown of MLB's Top 100 players.

Pedro Martinez hopes MLB owners, players can think about fans and compromise

Pedro Martinez hopes MLB owners, players can think about fans and compromise

The NHL has announced a return-to-play strategy. The NBA could announce its plan as soon as Thursday after a Board of Governors vote.

And then there's Major League Baseball.

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MLB's first proposal was quickly shot down by the Players' Association, which submitted its own plan over the weekend. That's also expected to be immediately dismissed. And as the days tick by, the hopes for a 2020 season get dimmer. While there's still time to salvage a season, the lack of productive dialogue between the league and the MLBPA is getting discouraging.

Speaking on NBC Sports Network's "Lunch Talk Live" on Monday afternoon, Pedro Martinez voiced his frustration with the stalemate.

"I'm hoping that both sides actually stop thinking about their own good and start thinking about the fans," Martinez said. "I think this is a perfect time to have their baseball teams out there and try to have the people forget a little bit about what's going on. It's not only the pandemic, it's everything that's going on. People need something to actually do and find a way to relax. I hope that the Players' Association and MLB realize how important it is to bring some sort of relief to people."

Martinez is spot-on with the sentiment that sports returning would be a welcome respite from the news right now. But getting players back on the field is proving to be complicated, especially as the sides navigate the financials of a shorter season without revenue from tickets.

"The economics is the dark part of baseball. The business part of baseball is dirty. It's dark," Martinez told Tirico. "And I hope that they take into consideration who pays our salaries, what the people do for us, how important the people are, and forget about or at least bend your arm a little bit to find a middle ground for the negotiations.

Let's not be selfish about it. Let's think about the fans, let's think about the families that are home that want to at least watch a baseball game and distract themselves from all the things that are going on.

Ongoing disputes over money are reflecting horribly on the sport, and cancelling the entire 2020 season could do irreperable harm to a sport that has seen its popularity ebb in recent years.

Fans can only hope that the sides take Pedro's advice, and find some common ground — and do it quickly.