The Red Sox began the Alex Cora era on Monday, as the club formally introduced the former Astros bench coach as the 47th manager in its history during a news conference at Fenway Park.
It was a reintroduction of sorts for Cora, who played for the Red Sox from 2005-08, which included the World Series championship year of ’07, as part of a 14-year Major League playing career. He is the first minority manager in Boston’s 117-year franchise history.
“Boston is a challenge, but for me it’s not,” Cora said. “I understand they live baseball 24/7. I come from a country [Puerto Rico] that does that, and with my family it’s the same.”
“We went through an interview process and we got a lot of feedback from other individuals,” said president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. “We thought he brings leadership, communication and respect and analytics to coaching. Everywhere we turned and talked to people … I received positive feedback. Young players, veterans.”
Despite having no big league managerial experience, Cora was widely regarded to be one of the top candidates to fill one of the game’s job openings this offseason. In addition to interviewing with Boston, Cora also met with the Mets for their opening, which eventually went to former Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway, and was also linked to the Tigers and Phillies jobs as well. He interviewed for the D-backs’ opening last year.
Cora, 42, has managed in winter ball and was a general manager for a team in his hometown in Puerto Rico, and was the GM of the Puerto Rico team that finished runner-up to the United States in this year’s World Baseball Classic. He was also an ESPN analyst for parts of four seasons.
“I’m a capable manager,” Cora said. “It was going to come down to somebody giving me that opportunity. I never thought that I was getting interviewed because I was a minority. It happens to be. I’m proud to be Puerto Rican … I see it that I’m a capable guy. And yeah, the history, I understand the history throughout the game. There’s not too many Latino managers. There’s not too many minority managers, but there are 30 capable managers, and I’m one of them.”
Cora is touted for his leadership and ability to communicate and relate with young players, which made him an ideal fit in Boston with Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Andrew Benintendi among a throng of rising superstars.
“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,” 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 succeeds John Farrell, who was let go after five seasons following early postseason departures. Cora will likely face immediate and elevated expectations for a club that won three American League East titles under Farrell, a feat no Red Sox manager had accomplished.