BOSTON (CBS) — After just one season as a Major League bench coach, Alex Cora now has his own team.
That one season as the second-in-command in Houston was a rather successful one for Cora, ending with the Astros winning their first World Series in franchise history. Introduced at Fenway Park as the 47th manager of the Boston Red Sox on Monday afternoon, Cora admitted that he was surprised how quickly he earned the opportunity to call a team his own.
But for those worried he doesn’t have the experience or resume to manage a team like the Red Sox, Cora says don’t fret.
“I understand that experience is important, but I was a utility guy. I was managed by a lot of good ones — Davey Johsnon, Terry Francona, Jerry Manuel — and when you’re a utility guy you have to pay attention to the game, you really do,” he said of his 14-year playing career. “A lot of people back in the day said I was going to be a future manager, and I hated that because I wanted to keep playing. But I learned a lot from those managers and a lot this year from A.J. Hinch. People don’t give him enough credit; he’s a superstar. We had good times, bad times and horrible times, but at the end of the day we have a [World Series] ring. I learned a lot.”
Cora said his lack of managerial experience will not be an obstacle because he is surrounded by a great group of baseball minds in the Boston front office and on the bench.
“I think I’m prepared and I’m surrounded by people, top to bottom, who have baseball experience,” he said, eager to get to work with front office leaders Dave Dombrowski and Tony La Russa as well as his new coaching staff. “They’ve been around and will help me out. It’s not just about me, it’s about the staff around me, the people who are going to support me. I’ll be fine and I’m going to have a blast doing it, too. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Cora said he’ll have his players focused on every detail of their given matchups, ready to take advantage of any situation. He’s also putting great emphasis on his relationship with players, something not everyone around baseball agrees with.
“Having a good relationship with players is not bad, and doing that will get the best out of them,” he said. “Some think that crossing that line isn’t helpful, but I see it the other way around and I lived it. You embrace them, tell them how good they are, and when you have to twist their arm and tell them it’s not good enough, they’ll listen. I want players to respond to me, respond to the city, and if we do that, we’re going to be in good shape.”
Playing in Boston for four seasons, Cora said he knows the passion that fans display every game. Though the Red Sox have won the AL East each of the last two seasons, Cora knows that just getting to October baseball isn’t enough in this baseball-crazed city.
“This is a good baseball team, a team as you all know has won back-to-back division titles. But at the end of the day in this city, everyone wants to win a world championship,” he said. “We’re going to do what we have to do on the field, and we’re going to have fun, too.”