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In wake of Ime Udoka suspension, Red Sox manager Alex Cora reflects on his own one-year ban

Brad Stevens (left), Alex Cora (center) and Ime Udoka (not pictured) have a text thread together, although Cora declined to discuss if he had reached out to the embattled Celtics coach, who was suspended for the 2022-23 season by Stevens and the Celtics.Barry Chin

NEW YORK — The recent news regarding Celtics coach Ime Udoka and his involvement in an improper consensual relationship with a staff member has dominated the sports world the last couple of days. The Celtics suspended Udoka for the entire 2022-23 season and will re-evaluate his standing with the team at a later date.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s one-year suspension during the Sox’ 2020 season due to his involvement in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal is completely different from Udoka’s situation. The punishment, however, is something Cora can speak to.

“I [expletive] up,” Cora said before the Sox’ 5-4 loss to the Yankees Friday. “I made a mistake and I paid the price. But when it happened, something bigger happened in the world: the pandemic. So just to be home for that reason, the man upstairs, put me in a place where my family needed me, regardless of my profession.”

It wasn’t a certainty Cora would ever manage again. His time in exile gave him perspective, however.


“Coming back, you can ask these people [the beat reporters], they probably know better how I have handled all this stuff,” Cora said. “I just kept learning from that and kept moving forward.”

Cora and Udoka, along with Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens, have a group text. When asked if he has reached out to Udoka, Cora said, “I don’t want to go there.”

High praise for Bello

It was just last summer that righthander Brayan Bello became a premier prospect for the Red Sox. On Sunday, he’ll start against the Yankees in the Sox’ nationally televised evening matchup.

“He gets it, man. He gets it,” Cora said. “He understands that you have to be relentless at this level to keep getting better and you see it. From what we saw against the Rays all the way to the last game against Cincinnati. He keeps getting better in different aspects. It’s not always about the results, or the usage, it’s the preparation.”


In Bello’s last six starts, he has a 2.67 ERA, striking out 32 batters in 30⅓ innings. He’s started to implement a curveball into his arsenal so he can have a slower option to go with his full arsenal.

Pedro Martinez said on an MLB Network segment that he sees Bello as a future Cy Young candidate. While Cora said he appreciated the comment, the manager also acknowledged that one must temper some of those expectations.

“It’s great. I love it,” Cora said. “The man knows pitching. Probably he sees himself. Kid from the Dominican. Not too big. Short. And he has good stuff. So I appreciate the fact that he feels that way. But as a manager, I have to slow slow things down. That’s my job.”

Eovaldi goes 3 in rehab start

Nate Eovaldi (right shoulder inflammation) pitched at Triple A Worcester Friday. In the top of the first inning, he surrendered a two-run shot to former Met Dom Smith. The plan was for Eovaldi to toss four or five innings. He threw three innings, yielding three hits, three runs (all earned), two walks, and four strikeouts. Eovaldi hit a batter and tossed 57 pitches. He sat at 93-94 miles per hour, topping out at 96. The Sox will now decide what the next steps will be since the Triple A season ends next week . . . Xander Bogaerts received an off-day Friday . . . Christian Arroyo (flu-like symptoms) is back with the team, flying to New York Thursday. He missed the Sox’ two games in Cincinnati against the Reds with a non-COVID related illness.


Julian McWilliams can be reached at julian.mcwilliams@globe.com. Follow him @byJulianMack.