Alex Cora talks about graduating from the 'Tito Managing School'

Nick Friar
March 10, 2019 - 4:04 pm

FORT MYERS—The Terry Francona coaching tree, or the "Tito Managing School" as Alex Cora put it, has experienced a fair amount of early success.

Kevin Cash somehow won 90 games in his fourth year with the Tampa Bay Rays, despite having a lackluster offense and only rolling with four pitchers and an opener the entire 2018 season. Dave Roberts hasn't had a losing season yet and has been to two World Series, of course, losing both. Then there's Cora, who had the most impressive first season of the three, setting a franchise record for wins on the way to a World Series title.

Players and coaches across the league claim they can see which players will become managers someday. It's part of an individual's makeup and the general manner in which they go about business. However, it's not exactly a topic of conversation in clubhouses across Major League Baseball. Which is why Cora was initially surprised when Cash first became a manager back in 2015.

"Never thought that he was going to be a manager. I was very surprised, yeah," Cora said. "I thought he was going to be a card player or something. It's funny, because we never talk about this stuff. They talk about Dave Roberts and Cashy, like we played together and they say, 'did you guys ever talk about being a manager?' We never talk about stuff like that. It just happened. He, actually, he evolved into it. He was a scout for Toronto if I'm not mistaken, then he was with Tito which seems like his … the Tito managing school, we're part of it."

Instead of pursuing the life that comes with being a "card player," Cash is using data to take educated risks—certainly some unique ones, at that. But the bets he made in 2018 are a larger part of why the Rays finished third in the wild card standings, losing out to a 100-win team (New York) and a 97-win team (Oakland). It would seem this year should include much of the same, making the Rays a potential thorn in Boston's side throughout 2019.

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