Alex Cora’s season debut as Red Sox manager is still months away, but former members of the organization are excited about the prospect of what’s to come.
“I think it’s great,” retired pitching ace Pedro Martinez said. “Not only for the organization to have the first minority manager, but for Alex Cora, I think it’s a great achievement.”
Calling the 42-year-old “young, smart, [and] intelligent,” Martinez highlighted Cora’s ability to adjust in different circumstances and his communication with players as two major strengths. He also called attention to his bilingualism, saying that he doesn’t see any problems with Latino players acclimating to “the way he thinks and the way he goes about things.”
Former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz agreed with his ex-teammate: “I believe that that’s going to help because now the communication is going to be even better. They’re going to be speaking the same language, so there’s not going to be no misunderstandings. It’s going to be wonderful.”
“The way baseball is trending right now, he’s a perfect fit,” Martinez continued. “Plus, with the court behind him, including me, I think he will be a great help to the entire staff.”
Ortiz echoed this positive sentiment, saying that he could envision Cora becoming a manager back when they were teammates.
“He pays attention to all the details in the game,” he said. “If you watch video from when he was playing with us, he was always on the bench just looking around when he wasn’t playing.”
Jason Varitek corroborated Ortiz’s observations: “To be able to handle different elements of the game, you have to be able to pay attention to detail. He may see somebody’s nose twitch on a breaking ball that no one else had ever seen. He’s got attention to see a guy step with the wrong foot when he’s fielding a ground ball.”
Both former players also expressed how valuable Cora’s previous experiences in Boston will be as he navigates his post as manager.
“With the environment around here, he knows that this is a winning organization,” Ortiz said. “He knows that as a manager, you have to try to do something to win ballgames around here, whatever it takes … And he was a part of a championship group too, so he knows how we roll around here.”
“They believe that the team needs to be in the playoffs every year, but not just get to the playoffs, they believe we gotta win championships,” he continued. “That’s the mentality here. We’ve already done it before, so why not again?”
Ortiz, who signed a long-term contract to work with the team earlier this fall, said that he will certainly be around for his “boy” but doesn’t have any words of advice for his former teammate.
“I don’t think there’s much I got to say to him,” he said. “He’s played here already. He knows. And he played on winning years, which is even better. He didn’t play in the 90’s or those years that championships weren’t there, so he knows what it takes to win a ballgame here. He knows how much fanatics people are around here. He knows that people live for this.”
During his introductory press conference at Fenway Park on Monday, Cora confirmed Ortiz’s statement:
I think it’s very important that I already lived the Red Sox nation experience. To come back is amazing. Living through ‘05, ‘06 wasn’t great for us, and then ‘07 was outstanding, and then in ‘08 we fell short. But like I said before, people, they live baseball here 24/7, and I understand that. I understand that people want to talk about this team and I’m going to be able to talk about this team. That is an obstacle, that is pressure, [but] I don’t see it that way. I just see it as an opportunity.