BOSTON – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – Alex Cora was all smiles as he was introduced as the 47th manager of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Monday. Cora also became the first minority skipper for the Red Sox, who were the last Major League Baseball franchise to integrate.
“I am Puerto Rican, I can’t deny that, and I am the manager of the Boston Red Sox. So history is one thing, but it’s a different reality now,” the 42-year-old Cora said. “When I got the job I thought about that, but this city welcomed me with open arms from 2005 to 2008. It’s a city that has accepted me as I am.
“I don’t see that as an obstacle, I see it as an opportunity to open the eyes of many people and show them that we can perform these jobs at a high level.
Red Sox owner John Henry was quick to admit that the team needed change despite winning the American League East Division for the second straight season.
“We didn’t just change managers,” Henry said. “I think when the end of the season came, we were all of the mind that we needed change. Sometimes an organization benefits from change. We decided that the organization would benefit. John (Farrell) had a tremendous tenure here; back-to-back division championships is a really difficult thing. Sometimes you want change not just because of your results but there’s a time and a place for it. We thought this was really the right time.”
Cora, who played with the Red Sox from 2005-08, knows how passionate the fans can be.
“Boston is a challenge, but for me, it’s not,” Cora said. “I understand they live baseball 24/7. I come from a country that does that, and with my family, it’s the same. This is a good baseball team, a team that, as you all know, have won back-to-back division titles but at the end of the day, this city, everybody wants to win a world championship.”
Cora did precisely that with the Red Sox in 2007 and is coming off repeating the feat with the Houston Astros, who defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games during a World Series that concluded last week.
Cora, who served as a bench coach for the Astros, agreed to a three-year contract plus a club option for 2021 to begin his first managerial job.
“When you sit down with Alex, there are some players you talk to, some people in the game that have been players that manage every single play that they’re in — thinking all the time,” Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. “They’re thinking what they would be doing. It was apparent with his intellect and feel for the game that managing at the major league level was not a major obstacle.”
Cora’s stock rose greatly due to the success of the Astros. The club went 101-61 in the regular season and defeated the Red Sox in the American League Division Series and the New York Yankees in the AL Championship Series to reach the World Series for the second time in club history.
Cora served as a baseball analyst for four seasons (2013-16) before being hired by the Astros. His varied background and ability to relate to young players was a key in the hiring.
Cora batted .243 in 1,273 big league games from 1998-2011 with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1998-2004), Cleveland Indians (2005), Red Sox, New York (2009-10), Texas Rangers (2010) and Washington Nationals (2011).
His brother, Joey, also was a major league player from 1987-98 with the San Diego Padres, Chicago White Sox, Seattle Mariners and the Indians