Red Sox

Alex Cora said he’s hopeful there will be ‘change’ in status of unvaccinated Red Sox players

"I bet you a dollar it’s going to change."

Alex Cora vaccination
Alex Cora during the 2022 season. Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Having had to play an important series against the Blue Jays in Toronto without two key players due to their vaccination status, Red Sox manager Alex Cora sounded a hopeful note that things might be different when his team makes another trip to Canada in September.

Boston dropped two out of three to the Blue Jays, including a 6-5 loss on June 28 in which a 9th inning blown save only magnified the conspicuous absence of unvaccinated closer Tanner Houck.

Houck and outfielder Jarren Duran were the primary players to miss the recent trip across the border due to their vaccination status, but others who might factor into Boston’s season — including starting pitcher Chris Sale — are also currently unable to travel to Canada.

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Still, Cora asserted prior to Wednesday’s win in Toronto that a change might be coming. Though he didn’t provide specifics, the Boston manager alluded to the potential of getting everyone vaccinated.

“We’re still talking. We’ll see,” Cora told reporters, saying that he believes when the team comes back in for the next series at the Rogers Centre, “it’s going to be different.”

To clarify, Cora said he didn’t expect the change to come from Canadian law, which currently prohibits unvaccinated athletes traveling into the country for games.

“No, I don’t get into politics. I barely know the Puerto Rican ones,” Cora admitted. “I do believe for September, it’s going to change, from our end. Let’s leave it at that. I bet you a dollar it’s going to change.”

Exactly how Cora envisions the “change” remains to be seen. Players who are still unvaccinated can’t be required to get the vaccine by the team.

Red Sox president Sam Kennedy reiterated this point during an interview on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” on Thursday morning.

“While we believe deeply in the effectiveness of the vaccine, and it is our hope that everyone will get the vaccines to protect against COVID, we cannot force or mandate a player to get vaccinated,” Kennedy explained.

The next Red Sox trip to Toronto is set for Sept. 30 through Oct. 2, the penultimate series of the regular season. Given the proximity of the two teams in the standings — Boston currently leads Toronto by half a game — the late season series could be pivotal. In addition, there’s also the distinct possibility that the Red Sox and Blue Jays play in the postseason.

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But despite acknowledging that the team is unable to force players to get vaccinated, Kennedy also asserted his confidence in Cora when asked about the dollar bet.

“If I’ve learned anything in 21 years with the Boston Red Sox organization, I would never bet against Alex Cora.”

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