BOSTON (CBS) — When Alex Cora and the Red Sox chose to part ways last January following Cora’s one-year suspension from MLB, the manager knew he wanted to get back into the game. But he never expected to be back less than a year later, and he certainly didn’t expect to be back in Boston so soon.
But Cora is indeed back in Boston, introduced as Red Sox manager on Tuesday for the second time in the last three years. The comeback came together quickly last week, with Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox brass reaching out to Cora shortly after his suspension ended last week with the conclusion of the World Series. Just a few days later, Cora was officially brought back to manage the franchise he won a championship with in 2018.
Cora is obviously pumped to be back to doing what he loves the most, but he also had some apologizing to do. And Cora did just that, expressing some deep regret for his role in the 2017 Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. The former Astros bench coach was painted as the mastermind behind the barrel-banging scheme, earning him that one-year ban from commissioner Rob Manfred ahead of the 2020 season.
Cora said that he spent his year away from baseball at home with his family, which was a nice bonus. But that family time was not the result of anything good, and for that, he is sorry. Really, really sorry.
“It’s been a tough year and to spend time with [my family] was amazing, but I was spending time at home for all the wrong reasons. For that I want to apologize,” Cora said to start his virtual press conference at Fenway Park on Tuesday. “I deserved what I got this year. It’s not something I’m proud about.”
Cora didn’t want to get into the details of 2017, but said the way they did it in Houston “was not the right way.” It was a tough lesson to learn and not something Cora is proud of, but it’s something he’s not going to run away from.
“I want to make sure everyone knows that this situation is part of who I am for the rest of my career. I have to deal with it. I don’t want this to be seen as a great comeback story. I don’t want that,” he said. “I want to use this situation to make people better. It started earlier this year and it’s going to continue.
“I’m still Alex. I made a mistake. I still love the game and love what I do, and promise you that from now on I’m going to use this experience the right way. I’m not proud of it or happy about it. But now I’m back home,” he added.
Cora said that he had some deep conversations with his daughter, his mother, and his brother Joey (also a former ballplayer) over how wrong he was in his actions with the Astros. He’s determined to grow from the situation, and won’t let the backlash he’ll receive around the world of baseball interfere with leading the Red Sox.
“All I can do now is get better and I will be better,” he said. “It’s something that if I didn’t feel prepared for what was coming, I probably would have declined the phone call or the text. … I know it’s going to be tough in certain places, but I understand.”
The Red Sox stumbled mightily in 2020 under Ron Roenicke, finishing the season at 24-36 with one of the worst pitching staffs in all of baseball. Cora watched it all from afar, and has some new ideas on how to turn the Red Sox back into a World Series contender.
“There is a process in place and we have some talented players, but we have work to do,” he said. “I watched a lot of games. Some people don’t believe that but I did. There are a few things that I watched not only from this organization but others, and I have some ideas on how to get better.
“If we do the things we have to do, we’ll see where it takes us,” said Cora.