BOSTON (CBS) — Red Sox players are still coming to grips with the fact that Alex Cora will not be their manager anymore. Cora and the Red Sox mutually split on Tuesday, after an investigation into the 2017 Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal revealed that Cora — then Houston’s bench coach — was the mastermind behind the scheme.

It’s a difficult reality to grasp, since Boston players loved Alex Cora. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts spoke with reporters at Fenway Park on Thursday, and said Cora will be missed by everyone in the clubhouse.

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“Obviously it’s very unfortunate. He’s someone that we all enjoyed playing for and I loved to just sit and have a nice conversation with him baseball-wise,” said Bogaerts. “He’ll be someone we’ll miss a lot, me especially. I had such a great relationship with him.”

Bogaerts said Cora was always one of the first faces he saw when he got to the ballpark, and he hopes that Cora’s brilliant baseball mind will be back in the game soon. Cora took Bogaerts under his wings when he arrived in Boston, and under his tutelage, Bogaerts had two of the best years of his career.

“I think he helped me get to the other level that I was trying to reach. I’m very thankful for him,” Bogaerts said of his former skipper. “Always was a fan of him as a person, when he was doing the TV stuff and when he was in Houston. Just such a smart baseball guy, and when he came here he pushed all of us to heights that we obviously wanted to reach.

“I’m so thankful for him for being part of the organization. It was a blessing to me to have him as a manager and all that he taught me; to do stuff the right way and how to get better,” Bogaerts added. “He’ll be dearly missed, for sure. ”

Bogaerts doesn’t think Boston’s 2018 World Series win over the L.A. Dodgers is tainted.

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“Absolutely not,” he replied to the inquiry. “We came to the park every day and worked hard, practiced hard. We worked as teammates, we had each other’s backs. We had a great coaching staff to go along with that. I think playing at home in the first games of the series, that was huge and we took advantage that right away. We had a great run.”

He declined to comment on MLB’s investigation into the 2018 Red Sox, only saying that it was a special year for the team.

Boston is now looking for a new manager with spring training just three weeks away, and Bogaerts has a suggestion for the ideal candidate.

“Someone like [Alex],” he said.

Bogaerts is confident the team will have a new manager by the time they report to Fort Myers, and no matter who that may be, he believes the team has the talent up and down the roster to compete for another title.

“I think we have the right pieces,” he said. “We have a lot of veterans in the clubhouse to make another run and forget about the distractions. … We’ve been through the good and we’ve been through the bad, and we’re still here. We’ll see what happens, but we should have a great year.”

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