FORT MYERS, Fla. — As always, manager Alex Cora met with the media before the Red Sox played Northeastern on Friday. But there were no questions this time.
Cora instead took the time to pay an emotional tribute to Globe baseball columnist Nick Cafardo, who died suddenly on Thursday after being stricken by an embolism at JetBlue Park.
“I just want to echo the sentiments of the organization, the players, everybody in our family and the baseball world,’’ said Cora, who spoke for just over seven minutes. “We work in a profession that it seems like most of the time you don’t have your loved ones around.
“You spend so much time with other people you start caring around. Most of you guys start loving people. You guys spent so much time with Nick and we spend so much time with the players and all that. It puts everything in perspective.’’
Alex Cora pays tribute to Nick Cafardo pic.twitter.com/Bx1Wc3Bgbs
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Cora then spoke about losing his father, Jose Manuel, when he was 13 and how it took him until only five or six years ago to come to grips with it.
“There was an article that Nick wrote about my dad around Father’s Day [in 2018] and I pulled it out [Wednesday],’’ said Cora. “He did a good job, like he always did. It’s life, man. I know how we feel. We’re going to miss him. He was a great man.
“You started reading social media and what people wrote about Nick, how you guys feel about him. Not only the people from Boston, but from all over the state, people from the industry. It was amazing, the respect, the love, people had for him.
“You start thinking about life, and you know what? That’s the way it should be, I guess. When you make an impact in life, and obviously Nick impacted all of us. Very respected, class. In my case, very fair. He was great.’’
Cafardo had old-school sensibilities about baseball and wrote a column early last season suggesting Cora was giving the players too many days off. They agreed to disagree.
That Cafardo was at the park Thursday on his day off had the manager reminiscing.
“He showed up,’’ Cora said. “I was like, ‘That’s why he got on me.’ He never took an off day.’’
Cora also addressed the team about what happened and spoke about his affection for Cafardo’s son, Ben, a former co-worker at ESPN.
Cora said what he learned from his father’s passing was that it’s the time people have together that matters, not their loss.
“That’s my message to you guys, honestly,’’ Cora said. ‘This is not the manager, this is Alex Cora; it’s just me. Let’s actually celebrate his life. I told the guys just go out there and have a great day.
“Let’s have a blast on the field. He loved the game.
“That’s why I don’t get caught up in the whole game. It’s just a game, bro. When you leave, that’s real. Life is real. Everything you have to do as a parent, as a husband, as a son, that’s real. This is just a game, man. We get caught up on the whole wins and losses and rivalries and whatever. Life is real, man.’’
Cora then praised the Red Sox medical staff for attending to Cafardo as quickly as they did and further expressed his condolences to the reporters in the room.
“He’s going to be missed,’’ Cora said. “But let’s keep going, OK?’’