MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Red Sox-Indians connections more than Tito

Many players, coaches and executives have ties to both organizations

Red Sox-Indians connections more than Tito

Because transience is an inevitable element of the business of professional sports, it is not at all unusual for two teams paired up on baseball's postseason stage to have a few ties that bind -- players that migrated from one club to the other either in free agency or trade, coaches or executives who once collected a paycheck from their October foe. This stuff is normal.

But even if we accept that to be the case, the number of connections between the Indians and Red Sox, who begin their American League Division Series at Progressive Field on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, TBS), borders on ridiculous.

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 6 CLE 5, BOS 4 video
Gm 2 Oct. 7 CLE 6, BOS 0 video
Gm 3 Oct. 10 CLE 4, BOS 3 video

Much will be written and said about Terry Francona's first postseason series with a club other than Boston coming against Boston, and the more dramatic among us will proclaim this series is Tito's opportunity to exact revenge on the Red Sox after their famous falling out following the club's September 2011 meltdown.

Francona's not nearly as dramatic.

"That won't enter into anything," he said. "I would be excited to play anybody, anywhere. This is the playoffs."

The Francona narratives, however, are only the beginning. Here's a rundown of the other associations between these two teams:

John Farrell: The Red Sox skipper is also facing his former club, albeit not the first time on the postseason stage. Farrell not only pitched for the Indians from 1987-90 and again in '95, but he was also the club's farm director for five years in the 2000s, right up until he was hired to be the Boston pitching coach prior to 2007 by, yes, Francona. And so he was in the Red Sox dugout when these two clubs last met on the postseason stage in the 2007 ALCS.

Mike Napoli: He was one of Boston's bearded wonders in the 2013 title run, capping it off with a shirtless stroll on Boylston Street. After the Red Sox traded him to Texas midway through 2015, Napoli brought that edge and experience to Cleveland, where he's proven an instrumental asset both in the clubhouse and the lineup with a career-best 34-homer season.

Mike Hazen: Boston's general manager began his front-office career, as so many high-ranking officials in today's game have, working for John Hart, as an intern for Cleveland in 2001. He worked under Farrell as the Indians' assistant director of player development before leaving to become Boston's farm director in 2006.

Andrew Miller: The short-lived Bobby Valentine Era in Boston was not, in fact, a total disaster. That 2012 season did unearth Miller as an impact reliever after a failed career as a starter (including a 5.55 ERA for Francona's Red Sox in '11), and it was Valentine who gave Miller his legit opportunity to establish himself as a setup man. In 2014, the Red Sox traded Miller to Baltimore for Eduardo Rodriguez, and the Indians dealt for him this summer. If Miller impacts this series in a prominent way, Red Sox fans will be cursing Bobby V.'s name once again.

Coco Crisp: Prior to the 2006 season, the Indians made the bold decision to deal Crisp, their starting left fielder on an '05 club that won 93 games, along with catcher Josh Bard and reliever David Riske, for a three-player package fronted by highly touted third-base prospect Andy Marte, along with reliever Guillermo Mota and catcher Kelly Shoppach. It proved to be much ado about … very little. Marte was a bust, and Crisp spent three statistically subpar and injury riddled seasons in Boston, though he was on the '07 club that beat Cleveland en route to the World Series. The Indians reacquired Crisp from the A's at the end of August.

Carl Willis: "The Big Train" was the Indians' pitching coach under manager Eric Wedge from 2003-09, and he was instrumental in the consecutive Cy Young Award seasons the Tribe received from CC Sabathia (2007) and Cliff Lee ('08). Willis came back to the organization as the Triple-A Columbus pitching coach in 2015 (which means he's worked with multiple members of this Indians staff), only to leave when called back up to the bigs by the Red Sox to replace Juan Nieves in the middle of that season.

Ruben Amaro Jr.: Long before he was Boston's first-base coach (or the Phillies' general manager), Amaro was a role player for the '95 Indians team that reached the World Series. He was carried on the Tribe's World Series roster over Hall of Famer Dave Winfield.

Torey Lovullo: Farrell's bench coach played a handful of games for the Indians in 1998 and, more meaningfully, coached and managed in their Minor League system from 2001 through 2009 (Michael Brantley, Carlos Carrasco and Chris Gimenez were among those on his '09 club at Triple-A Columbus).

Drew Pomeranz: When the Red Sox dealt for Pomeranz in July, it wasn't the first time he was involved in a major midseason swap. The Indians drafted Pomeranz out of Ole Miss, and he was considered one of the top pitching prospects in the game in July 2011, when the Tribe included him in the package that landed Ubaldo Jimenez from the Rockies. Five years later, he was a Red Sox trade target in the swap with San Diego. Alas, he won't be making a Division Series start against his first professional club because of left forearm soreness, but he will be available out of the bullpen.

Steven Wright: His recovery from a shoulder injury will keep him out of this ALDS, but it is nonetheless worth noting that Wright was a middling Minor Leaguer in the Indians' system when he began incorporating the knuckleball into his repertoire in 2009. In 2012, the Indians dealt him to Boston in a low-profile swap for outfielder Lars Anderson, and Wright had a breakout '16 going before jarring his shoulder while running the bases.

Brad Mills: He was Tito's bench coach in Boston from 2004-09, and he serves the same role in Cleveland.

Scott Atchison: The former reliever is now an advance scout and coaching staff assistant for the Tribe, so he helped size up the Sox for this series. Back in '12, he and Miller were a seventh-inning tandem in Valentine's bullpen.

Michael Martinez: The utility man was designated for assignment by the Indians earlier this year and picked up by the Red Sox, only to play four games for them before getting designated again and picked back up by the Indians. Just another small link between two clubs who have a tendency to intersect.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.