What to Know
- Red Sox leadership spoke glowingly of former manager Alex Cora but said it was "an easy decision" for him to leave, and one made mutually.
- The team has not appointed a new manager but continues to prepare for the 2020 season, with spring training starting in a month.
- Owner John Henry and other team officials didn't comment on the MLB investigation into the Red Sox amid a sign-stealing scandal that rocked the Houston Astros.
Red Sox team leadership reflected Wednesday on Alex Cora's tenure as manager a day after his departure from the team amid a sign-stealing scandal that has rocked Major League Baseball.
Asking for fans to reserve judgment on the Red Sox, the four team leaders who appeared at the news conference at Fenway Park did not get into specifics about anything involving that investigation but did insist that releasing Cora was the right thing to do.
They also asked fans to reflected frankly on the challenges that the team faces going into the 2020 season.
“It’s not ideal. It's not what we would like to be doing at this point, but we were all surprised to read this report on Monday," owner John Henry said.
The team leaders and Cora had together announced the manager was parting ways with the Red Sox Tuesday night after the league concluded the Houston Astros had participated in an illegal sign-stealing scheme and that Cora, a former Astros coach, had been an "active participant."
It was "ultimately an easy decision for the Red Sox and for Alex," team chairman Tom Werner said at the news conference, at which Cora did not appear.
Henry, Werner and the other two members of Red Sox leadership who spoke Wednesday — President and CEO Sam Kennedy and Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom — all spoke highly of Cora, both for his willingness to place the team's interest ahead of his own and for what he brought to the team.
"He was a tremendous manager for us on all levels, so we're going to miss him," Henry said, while adding later, "It was the right decision" for Cora to go.
What they didn't touch on was anything involved with Major League Baseball's investigation into the team, part of their obligation as the probe continues.
The team also didn't announce a new manager. Bloom said that those conversations are just beginning but noted that crisis management will be one factor that will be part of the interviews.
"There's no question it's an unusual time to be doing a managerial search," Bloom said.
The next manager will likely have to contend with some form of punishment from the MLB, given the stiff sanctions the Houston Astros were hit with.
Cora was the bench coach for the Astros in 2017 and moved on to become manager of the Red Sox the following year. In Boston, Cora led the team to a World Series title and most wins in team history.
Commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday delivered one-season suspensions for Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch for their parts in the scheme. The Astros were also fined $5 million and forced to give up their first- and second-round draft picks in the next two seasons.
Not long afterward, team owner Jim Crane declared that Luhnow and Hinch, a tandem that turned Houston into a perennial powerhouse, had both been fired.
The Astros used a video feed from a center field camera to observe and decode the opposing catcher's signs, the league said in a report. Players signaled to batters what was coming by banging on a trash can, the league said.
According to the league, Cora was involved in developing the banging scheme as well as utilizing the replay review room to decode and transmit signs.
The MLB has not yet announced disciplinary action against Cora, as the investigation into the Red Sox continues.
Here are some other highlights of Wednesday's news conference:
- Henry, the team's principal owner for about 20 years, said the team continues to aim to play in the World Series.
- Werner spoke with Cora today to check in on him, the team chairman said.
- All of the Red Sox leadership were effusive in their praise of Cora, calling him extraordinary, passionate, selfless, classy, a tremendous manager. "We'll miss him personally. Again, it doesn't excuse the conduct from the commissioner's report, we recognize that," said Kennedy, the team president and CEO.
- Kennedy wouldn't say if he thought Cora deserves a second chance to manage in the MLB but noted that he "apologized yesterday to us for the embarrassment that this caused."
- While the MLB investigation has cast a pall over the Red Sox' 2018 World Series victory, when Kennedy was asked if he believed the team won fairly, he replied, "absolutely, yes."
- The team continues to prepare for spring training, but Bloom couldn't speak to whether the team would retain its coaching staff. He noted that it's unusual to be searching for a manager so close to the start of spring training — pitchers and catchers report in about a month.