Alex Cora

Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports

Alex Cora: 'Boston for a lot of people is a challenge, but for me it's not'

John Tomase
November 06, 2017 - 12:50 pm

The Red Sox introduced Alex Cora on Monday as their 47th manager, and he wasted little time in laying out his mission statement.

"We're going to connect with players, be genuine, and be accessible," Cora said during a Fenway Park press conferencer. "This year I learned talking to payers is not bad, having a relationship with players is not bad. Doing that, you're going to get the best out of them. People may think that crossing that line is not helpful, but I see it the other way around, and I lived it. You embrace them. You tell them how good they are, and when you have to twist their arm and tell them it's not good enough, they're going to respond to you."

Cora just finished his first season as Astros bench coach. He expected to earn a shot to manage at some point. The timing caught him by surprise.

"It's a perfect situation," he said. "I never thought it was going to happen this quick, honestly."

He also said he's not afraid of Boston.

"Boston for a lot of people is a challenge, but for me it's not," he said. "This is a city that I understand, they live baseball 24/7, but I come from a country, we live baseball 24/7. My family for breakfast, we talk baseball, for lunch, we talk baseball, and for dinner, too."

Dave Dombrowski praised him as, "the person who would provide the type of leadership, communication, respect," the Red Sox need, highlighting his knowledge of analytics and the rave reviews he received from across the game.

Cora touched on a number of other issues.

* On being the first minority manager in Red Sox history:

"I never thought I was getting interviewed because I'm a minority. I'm proud to be. I'm proud to be Puerto Rican. But I see it that I'm a capable guy. The history I understand. There's not too many Latino managers. There's not too many minority managers. But there's 30 capable managers in this league, and I'm one of them."

* On his lack of experience:

"I get it. I understand that experience is important. But in the situation I was as a player, I was the utility guy. I was managed by a lot of good ones. Davey Johnson. Jim Tracy. Tito Francona. Jerry Manuel. When you're a utility guy, you have to pay attention to the game. A lot of people back in the day used to say I was going to be a future manager, and I used to hate that statement, because I wanted to keep playing. It felt like they were pushing me out of the game. . . . I don't think experience is going to be an issue for me. I'm surrounded from top to bottom by guys with experience."

* Cora said his most challenging job was guiding Puerto Rico during the World Baseball Classic, when he needed to find playing time for three tremendous young shortstops. Carlos Correia ended at third, Francisco Lindor at short, and Javier Baez at second. The best part? No one complained.

* Cora learned a lot from Sandy Alomar Sr. He said that Terry Francona told him in 2005 he would be a manager and gave him a piece of advice.

"The most important thing you have to do as a manager is delegate," Cora said. "You have to trust your coaches. . . . I'm going to delegate, because I can't do it all."

* Cora expanded on the idea of being close to the players, and whether there's such a thing as too close. "Too close to players, that doesn't exist," he said. He cited his long-standing relationship with Astros veteran Carlos Beltran. The two grew up together, played together at age 17, played together on the Mets, crossed paths frequently.

"I have a great relationship with Carlos," he said. "Throughout the season, although he was huge for the Houston Astros, the performance wasn't what we wanted. I had to be honest with him and we talked, we were still close. The whole thing about drawing a line, they understand that, they're human beings, man. You have to see how they feel. I'm going to encourage my coaching staff to get close to players."

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