Kaitlin McKinley Becker

Cora Says He Will Embrace Demands and Scrutiny of Sox Fans

Despite having no major league managerial experience, new Red Sox manager Alex Cora assured the crowd at his introductory news conference on Monday that he is the man for the job.

"At the end of the day in this city, everybody wants to win a world championship. For that to happen my goal is for this team to pay attention to detail, show up everyday, and take advantage of certain situations during the game," Cora said. "We're going to connect with players, be genuine, and be accessible, and that's the most important thing."

Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski says he's not concerned that Cora has no experience as a major league manager, and received a great endorsement from Astros manager A.J. Hinch, for whom Cora was a bench coach on the World Series winners. 

"He embraces being in Boston, because he's talking about baseball all the time," Dombrowski said. "He's a person that has experienced it, he'll experience it in a different fashion being the manager, but I think it will be a situation that he thrives on."

Cora did acknowledge that Red Sox fans are demanding and will be strutinizing the team 24/7.

"That is a obstacle, that is pressure, I don't see it that way. I just see it as an opportunity," Cora said. "As a manager I'm going to be genuine with people and we're going to do what we're supposed to do on the field and we're going to have fun doing it, too.

The Red Sox officially announced they had hired the Houston Astros bench coach on Oct. 22, one day after the Astros eliminated the New York Yankees in the AL Championship series. The Astros went on to win the World Series in a 7-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Cora was a member of the 2007 Red Sox World Series Championship roster, and now the team will look to him to help get them out of the current playoff slump.

At the time of the announcement, Cora said in a statement released by Boston: "I am extremely honored and humbled to be named manager of the Boston Red Sox. Returning to the Red Sox and the city of Boston is a dream come true for me and my family, and I look forward to working towards the ultimate goal of winning another championship for this city and its great fans."

Cora replaces John Farrell, who led the Red Sox to the 2013 title and in the last two years claimed the first back-to-back AL East championships in franchise history. But Boston also finished last twice in Farrell's tenure, and the ballclub has won just one playoff game since winning it all in his first season.

A native of Puerto Rico, Cora is the first Hispanic manager for a franchise that was the last in the major leagues to field a black player. The Red Sox faced renewed racial scrutiny this season after Orioles outfielder Adam Jones reported being subjected to racial slurs at Fenway Park.

A day later, a fan was banned from the ballpark for life for using racial slurs in the stands. Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said at the time the episode made him feel "deep remorse that these things happen in our society.

"But it's the reality of the world that we live in," he said. "Hopefully, this is a step forward."

Cora, who has never managed before, played 14 years in the major leagues before retiring in 2011, including parts of four seasons with the Red Sox. He was a lifetime .243 hitter with 35 homers and 286 RBIs. In 2003, he led the league in putouts and double plays by a second baseman.

"Alex is a guy that communicates well with the players; he's a guy that studies the game," Astros designated hitter Carlos Beltran said this month. "His preparation is above what I have seen in baseball, and he has a great personality.

"He's intense — players like to see it. But at the same time, he is a guy that can sit down in the clubhouse with the players and have a baseball conversation," Beltran said. "So he's got the skills and I love it. He's been a big help for this organization. He takes a lot of pride into relationships with the players."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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