BOSTON (CBS) — Alex Cora is back in Houston, with the Red Sox beginning a four-game set with the Astros on Monday. After winning a World Series with the Astros in 2017, normally such a homecoming would be a rather fun occasion.

But for Cora, he admitted that this return will be “a lot different.” Monday marks the Boston skipper’s first time back in Minute Maid park since he finished serving his year-long suspension from Major League Baseball for his role in the 2017 Astros sign-stealing scandal.

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Cora has some good memories with the Astros in 2017, winning it all as the team’s bench coach. That has obviously been sullied by the cheating scandal, especially since the Astros essentially painted him as the ring leader during MLB’s investigation into the matter.

Cora is not hiding from his past, but hopes that most of the focus over the next four days will be on two of baseball’s best teams going head to head.

“Obviously not my proudest moments, the last 14-15 months when you talk about Houston and myself,” Cora said Monday. “The fact that we’re playing good baseball, and the story should be the Boston Red Sox against the Houston Astros — two of the best teams in the big leagues — it helps.”

But he knows that the 2017 scandal will be brought up over and over, and he understands that it will follow him throughout his career. He isn’t running from the scandal, and continues to discuss it whenever it’s brought up.

“I made a mistake and that’s part of it. I’m not the first human to make a mistake, but at this level with this platform, it’s going to be tough forever. Not only when I’m here but wherever I go,” he said. “For people to judge me, I understand. There is nothing I can do to change the past. I can be myself in the present and keep getting better.

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“People are going to ask why we did it and I don’t know,” he added. “We just did it and we put ourselves in a bad situation. People will always talk about the 2017 Astros for what we did instead of the talent we had.”

Cora said his current Boston players haven’t really talked about the scandal with him, but his door is always open.

“It’s part of who I am. It’s part of my present, part of my past and part of my future,” said Cora. “I’m not proud of it, but I have a job to do and that is to manage the Boston Red Sox and hopefully get back to the World Series.”

Instead of remembering what happened while with the Astros, Cora would much rather look back on Boston’s World Series run through Houston in 2018. He remembers dropping the first game of the ALCS in Boston, and when the series went to Houston tied 1-1, no one gave Boston any shot.

“We came here in ’18 and no one gave us a chance to win a game here, and we swept them,” Cora remembered Monday. “I remember a grand slam with Jackie Bradley Jr. and the catch with Benny (Andrew Benintendi). …. There are some good memories here as a Red Sox.”

Cora is occasionally met with boos on the road, and isn’t sure how Astros fans will react to his return this week.

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“That’s gonna be interesting. Not only here but back home when the Astros play there,” he said. “We’ll see how they react and go from there.”

CBSBoston.com Staff