Alex Cora spent the last year on the bench following a suspension for his role in the Houston Astros’ stealing signals scandal. Now sitting in her manager’s seat with the Boston Red Sox after the team gave her a second chance to lead, Cora is absorbing every moment of being back in spring training.
“This is where I wanted to be. This is where I am,” Cora said last week. “I love every second and I’m not going to take it for granted.”
Cora became one of Boston’s most popular sports figures after leading the Red Sox to a World Series championship in 2018, his first season as manager of Fenway Park. When Boston fired Cora after the Astros’ plan to hit the trash was undone, many Red Sox players expressed disappointment that Cora would no longer be their manager.
“He’s someone we all enjoy playing with, and I loved sitting down and having a nice conversation with him, baseball-wise,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts said last January. “He will be someone we will miss very much, especially me.”
If there were questions about whether the Red Sox clubhouse would embrace Cora after the aftermath of the sign stealing scandal, those questions were quickly answered in the early days of spring training.
“You know everything we went through winning the World Series in 2018, I’m happy that he’s back,” said pitcher Eduardo Rodríguez. “He’s like a father, like a brother. Sometimes I feel like a teammate when I talk to him, and that’s part of the relationship we have together and we can improve it. We will do better.”
Even when Cora was not managing the Red Sox, Chris Sale said he maintained regular communication with the captain, especially as he began his rehab from Tommy John surgery.
When asked to describe the impact of Cora’s return to the team, Sale invoked the words camaraderie, trust and passion. Around the Red Sox clubhouse, Sale is known as a leadership figure who brings an old-school approach to the game (he is regularly seen in an “All Me Free PED” T-shirt) and does not speak in cliches.
“He wants to win, he does everything he can to improve himself, the coaching staff, the team, the organization,” Sale said. “Being able to have that confidence in the captain, he’s the one who runs the show, he’s the one who sets the lineups, he’s doing pitching changes and he has that confidence in knowing that he’s back to the end.”
This year, Cora brings a whole season of pent-up enthusiasm and excitement about baseball that she was unable to channel as she watches the games from her couch instead of the dugout, something she hopes can help Boston avoid a repeat of the last place of 2020. in the American League East.
“I’m going to do it the same way I did it in ’18 and ’19,” Cora said. “Confident, with conviction and trying to put these guys in situations to be successful. This is the way I know how to do it. This is what I do, and let’s see where it takes us.”