BOSTON (CBS) — Managing the Boston Red Sox is not easy — not at all. But you’d never know that by watching Alex Cora.
In his first year as a manager at any level, Cora has seamlessly stepped in to the job. And the Red Sox remain on a pace to record their most wins in any season — ever.
For a 118-year-old franchise, that’s no small feat. But in a sitdown interview with WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche, Cora said the wins are nice, but the manager’s own goals for the season are much higher.
“When I signed that contract, I knew what I was getting into. This team won the division two years in a row, and it wasn’t enough,” Cora told Roche. “I know what it takes. I know what people expect here, and honestly, their expectations are no higher than mine. I’m not saying it’ll be a disappointing season if we don’t finish the job, but I came here to win a World Series. And that’s the goal.”
Keeping players focused amid such success can be a challenge in and of itself, but Cora praised his players for being able to focus on the task at hand every single day.
“Obviously winning is great. Like I told them in spring training, winning is better than losing, always,” Cora said. “But the way we’re doing it — we don’t get caught up in the whole noise, we don’t get caught up on how many wins we have, or where we’re at in the division. The only thing we have in mind is to show up that day, get the information, digest it, and go out there and play. One thing about them, they play every day. Regardless of the results, they show up every day and they play hard.”
Though Cora is at the helm of a major league team for the first time, it’s certainly helped to have some familiarity with the city and the clubhouse. His four years spent playing in Boston did aid in the ease of Cora’s transition to manager, but he also said that it’s a very different experience when you have so many responsibilities.
“[Fans] recognize me more now than when I was a player,” Cora said.
That experience playing — and winning — in Boston, though, helped Cora to understand how passionate Red Sox fans can be.
“Yesterday was a reminder of that,” Cora said. “I went with the family, we went to a restaurant in the North End, and a guy pulled me aside and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got to stop this looking streak.’ OK…. But I understand. I understand how it is here, the whole madness. Like I said, I don’t get caught up. You’ll see me walk into the same restaurants, sit at the same places, hang out with the family. If you come up to me, I’ll be polite and we’ll talk baseball. Don’t talk bad about my players, but we can talk baseball all day and I don’t mind that.”
And in addition to being a big league manager for the first time, the 42-year-old Cora has also had twin boys, who just recently turned a year old, waiting for him whenever he returned from the ballpark. With a 25-year-old stepson and a 15-year-old daughter, balancing the stresses of the job with a family life is not always easy. But Cora said he’s managed to keep his priorities in order.
“We’ve been together for five years, me and Angelica. We have a great relationship,” Cora said. “She’s from a baseball family so she understands, but when I get in the car, it’s all about the kids. It detaches us from the madness. When the game is over — probably an hour to go over the game or talk to players or chill. But when I get in the car, then it’s all about the kids.”
Through everything, what’s unmistakable about Cora in his first year on the job in Boston is that he’s very much soaking up and enjoying every single aspect of being a part of a thriving sports city like Boston.
“I know how cool it is, because of the Celtics. Haven’t been to a Patriot game, looking forward to that. Been to a Bruins game. I’m a sports fan. I love it,” he said. “For them to be successful and to be living here at this time, as a sports fan, it’s the coolest thing ever. I love my job. This is cool. But forget the manager part — take off the hat and be Alex Cora, and watch sports and enjoy it in this city — that’s the best.”