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Hip problem causing Red Sox’s delay signing Mike Napoli

Dec 21, 2012, 9:15 AM EDT

Mike Napoli AP

It’s now been three weeks since Mike Napoli agreed to a three-year, $39 million contract with the Red Sox and no official announcement has been made, leading to lots of speculation about what might be causing the holdup.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that Napoli “has a problem with one of his hips” which also “led the Mariners to back off their pursuit of him” earlier in the offseason.

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has avoided any meaningful comments on the situation, saying stuff like “we’re working through some issues” when asked why Napoli remains unsigned, which Rosenthal speculates means the pre-signing physical exam revealed some red flags and Boston wants to re-work the language in his contract to lessen their long-term risk.

That’s similar to what the Red Sox did with J.D. Drew years ago, when they waited nearly two months to announce his signing and ended up putting a clause in his $70 million contract that protected them should his shoulder problems become a major issue.

For now at least there’s no indication that either side will try to back out of the deal completely.

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