Sunday, October 28, 2018

Red Sox Manager Alex Cora On Winning Title In First Year At Helm


Red Sox Manager Alex Cora led his team to a World Series championship in his first year at the helm.

Cora is the first manager to win it all in his first year in the job since Bob Brenly with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001.

Interestingly, Cora won a championship as a player with Boston 11 years ago to the day they clinched the championship on Sunday night with a 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5.

This was the second straight year that Cora celebrated a World Championship on the Dodger Stadium field, as he was the bench coach for the Houston Astros last season. Houston won a Game 7 in Los Angeles to clinch the championship.

This was the Red Sox's fourth title in 15 years, and he is the third manager to deliver them a championship, joining Terry Francona (2004 & 2007) and John Farrell, who won it in his first year as Boston's manager in 2013.

Cora made the surprise decision to go with David Price as his starting pitcher for Game 5, and it paid off as Price was dominant through seven innings, allowing just one run on three hits and two walks, with five strikeouts.

Price got the call, going on short rest after winning Game 2 and pitching in relief in Game 3. Chris Sale, who was originally slated to start Game 5, ended up closing out the victory.

Steve Pearce, the World Series Most Valuable Player, hit two home runs on the night, and J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts also homered, with both notching solo shots.

During his postgame comments, Cora, who has been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, said of visiting the White House, "We'll talk about it later on."

Here is the entirety of what Cora had to say to the media:

ALEX CORA: First of all, I want to congratulate the LA Dodgers on an amazing season. Their ownership, front office, my friend Dave Roberts and the players. It's not easy to get back to the World Series, and they did it. They're doing a lot of good things here. I know it's tough, but they should be proud of the season they had.
Q. You mentioned last night that no moment is too big for Steve Pearce. What has he meant to this team, just how huge has he been on this entire ride from June 28th up until tonight?
ALEX CORA: That was the key, too, June 28th. We were looking for complement for Mitch, a right-handed bat, to play against lefties and play against some righties. And from day one when he got to New York, first pitch he saw, he hit a double off CC. And he's been great, not only on the field but in the clubhouse. He's been a great teammate. Veteran guy. He's been through a lot. He's ground it out.

Little by little his role got bigger. Seems like we were facing a lot of lefties in the postseason. He kept putting up good at-bats. He's a good player. Actually he played great defensively for us, too, and that was a plus. He hit righties, and he hit lefties. And I'm happy that he was the MVP of the series.
Q. Another guy that could have been was David Price. Just an amazing series. Could you talk a little bit first about the decision to start him and also to relieve with him. That's kind of new in the World Series with guys going on little or no rest. How did that conversation go and what was his reaction when you asked him?
ALEX CORA: They were all prepared, Porcello, Nate, Chris and David. They knew that somebody had to come in and get us three outs on a nightly basis. But with David, and I heard this from Dana last year, the way he was used at the end of the season and in the playoffs, Dana is like, David loves to be ready to compete on a daily basis. The four days in between starts, he goes about his business, obviously he has to be prepared. But he enjoys being available. And he was available the whole time, the whole time, from the Division Series to the Championship Series to the World Series. There was a text, "I'm ready for tomorrow. Count on me. Use me."

He was the first one in the clubhouse, most of the time he was in the last one in the clubhouse. He just wanted to compete. And you could see tonight, he was locked in. He's been locked in for a while.
I'm very proud of him. There's a lot of people that gave up on him throughout the season. A lot of people that gave up on him after his outing against New York. But we knew that he's one of the best pitchers in are the Big Leagues, and he cares, he wants to win, and finally his World Series win.
Q. After the Yankee start, you're were like, hey, he's one of the best pitchers in the league, no question he's going to start? Did that ever enter your mind?
ALEX CORA: He was going to pitch in that series, if it was extended and you saw that. He pitched Game 2 against Houston and then he pitched on three days' rest. His stuff was electric. The changeup, I heard him talking about he found something when he warmed up in Game 4 in Houston. He hasn't stopped. Changeup was amazing. Good fastball, I'm just proud of him.

Q. Lastly, I think he batted twice after completing five innings, was there any conversation about, should we take him out?
ALEX CORA: No, actually I already made up my mind. The way he was throwing the ball and where they were in the lineup, he was going to go out in the 8th. Just happened that he walked the first guy, and we went to Joe. But he was in control. He was in command. That was his best outing for the season.

Q. You're the fifth rookie manager to win the World Series, and talking to LaRussa about your command, he said the staff, your ability to make decisions out of the box. Can you talk about the experience of the whole year? You're now a guy who won the World Series, as a player, a bench coach and a manager. Pretty heavy stuff.
ALEX CORA: Yeah, first of all, they gave me a chance. They saw me as a capable manager and they gave me a chance. It's funny, because when they announced it, we were flying to LA last year between the Championship Series and the World Series, and ironic enough we win it here. So it goes full circle.

It wasn't as easy as what people think. But it starts with talent. I mean, it starts with ownership. Everybody knows, they talk about we have the highest payroll in baseball. And that's a challenge, the way they see us, the media and the fans. We have to win because there's a lot of money involved. But they do an outstanding job giving Dave a chance to keep improving the team. They did it in the offseason. A lot of people thought that we were going to go one way, and we signed Mitch, which I thought it was a great move right away. A guy that not only is he respected in the clubhouse but he's a good player. And we got him. And obviously we were patient enough with J.D. Martinez saga and he ends up with us. He adds Nuñez and Pearce and then Kinsler and then Nate. A lot of people got on him because supposedly we didn't improve our bullpen. But little did he know that we got a starter and a rover at the same time, just a matter of the usage we were going to give him.
Dave did an outstanding job. He did great. I'm very happy that he finally got his second ring for Dave. It's amazing. And then those guys in the clubhouse, the coaches and the training staff. It was obviously a total organizational effort, because for us to do the things we did with the pitching staff, the medical staff had to be very involved, and they were. We know about Chris. We know about Nate and David, they were on top of their game in October, and that's a testament of who we have working with them.
Q. I just wanted to get back to something you said about David. He talked about how much faith he had in you going back to the Grapefruit League. He's grown so much from last year, everything that happened. Can you just talk to me about him not just as a player but as a person in terms as sticking with him at this point. He seems happy.
ALEX CORA: He's one of the leaders in the clubhouse. He's a great teammate. He cares about them. He's always paying attention to details and trying to help them to improve, from Eduardo to Chris and Nate. He's always in their bullpens. He's looking at film of hitters. He's paying attention to what's going on on the field. He's a complete player. I know he didn't get a hit today, but whatever.

But he's been great. Between Chris, Rick and David, we have a great relationship. We run a lot of stuff through them, they're the spokesmen of the team. What they like they let me know. What I don't like I let them know. So he's a leader. He's a leader. And I'm just happy that now he's a world champ. Obviously, as everybody else there. I can't wait for him to get to Ft. Myers next year and talk to us all about what's going to happen next year, and he doesn't have to look to the past. People don't have to bring that up anymore.
Q. Congratulations. Just curious. You pivot to David to start tonight and Chris goes out to the bullpen for the game. And of course David ends up going seven dominant innings, which shortens what you need from the bullpen. Did you envision the possibility of having Chris work multiple innings, if you needed him to?
ALEX CORA: No, it was only one inning. You have to be prepared for them coming back and winning this game. And you have to be ready for Game 6.

The reason we went to David is because we felt that he was going to have a great outing tonight. He was ready for it. But at the same time if it didn't happen for us, then he was going to be able to bounce back for Game 6 or Game 7.
Q. Congratulations from Italy. What are your feelings now compared to last year with Houston?
ALEX CORA: Somebody asked me that a week ago, what was better, to win as a player, as a bench coach or as a manager. As a player I was just utility guy, last year I was a bench coach. This feels better. To be able to, first of all, convince them to give me a chance to manage. That was hard work. And then to get the coaching staff together, guys that I believe, I trust, and they did an outstanding job. And then to see these guys compete on a nightly basis and finally win it. You try to put them in situations that they're going to be successful. And at the end, obviously they decide games and what they did was amazing, very proud of them.

Q. Alex, will you go to the White House?
ALEX CORA: We'll talk about it later on.

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