David L. Ryan/Globe Staff
That new Red Sox manager Alex Cora once played for the team and helped win the World Series in 2007 isn’t a happy coincidence. It matters.
It was one of the reasons Cora pursued the position more avidly than others that were open, and it became a significant factor in the Sox deciding to hire him.
Boston is often overwhelming for newcomers, whether they are players or managers. The city can be the best place to win but the worst to lose.
“For a lot of people, it’s a challenge,” Cora said Monday when he was introduced at Fenway Park. “But for me, it’s not.
“I already lived the Red Sox Nation experience. To come back is amazing.”
Cora is the first former Red Sox player to manage the team since Butch Hobson had the job from 1992-94. Before that, you have to go back to Eddie Kasko in the early 1970s.
President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski didn’t prioritize having a history with the Red Sox when he began searching for a manager. But Cora’s familiarity counted in his favor as the Sox went through their process.
“Every time a player comes to play here for the first time, you wonder how they’re going to respond to this environment,” said Red Sox principal owner John Henry, who also owns the Globe. “In this case, we knew Alex would be able to handle the Boston baseball experience.”
In his four seasons with the Sox, Cora played for an underachieving team in 2006 and a dominant World Series winner the following year. He saw Manny Ramirez force his way out of town and Mike Lowell become a hero.
From capricious fans to hectoring columnists, Cora knows the landscape.
“Until you go through it, you can never understand it,” said Jason Varitek, who played with Cora and attended Monday’s news conference with Pedro Martinez. “But Alex understands. I thought even back then than he would make a great manager.”
Varitek is one of several former teammates Cora can count on for support.
Lowell has said he wants to work with 21-year-old Rafael Devers to improve at third base. David Ortiz, who kept his distance to avoid being a distraction last season, plans to be more involved. The same is true of Martinez, who didn’t play with Cora but counts him as a friend. Kevin Millar also reached out and said he would come to spring training.
“There’s a lot of people who want to go to Fort Myers,” Cora said.
That Cora is a 42-year-old from Puerto Rico makes him unique for the Sox. They have not had a younger manager since Kevin Kennedy, who was 40 when he was hired in 1995. They have never before had a minority manager.
For the many Latino players in the organization, Monday was a landmark day.
Assistant general manager Eddie Romero watched the news conference while wearing a Puerto Rico flag pin on the lapel of his suit.
“It’s an amazing day,” Romero said. “Alex is a huge figure in Puerto Rico and now he’s the manager of the Red Sox.”
The Red Sox are organizing a private plane to bring supplies to the hurricane-ravaged island, a mission Cora will take part in. He thanked the organization by presenting Dombrowski with a Puerto Rican flag.
“To see that, for people to see that, it means a lot,” Romero said. “Thirty percent of the island has power, but 100 percent of the people know Alex is our manager.”
But his heritage is only one facet of Cora’s personality. He played college baseball at the University of Miami, then 14 seasons in the majors for six teams. He’ll be able to relate to all of his players in some way.
“It’s more than he’s bilingual; he’s bicultural,” said Eduardo Perez, who worked with Cora at ESPN. “He’ll connect with every player.”
Dombrowski said he started with a list of 50 names and narrowed it down to Cora, Brad Ausmus, and Ron Gardenhire. Cora was the first to interview, and he impressed Dombrowski and his staff. In all, the Sox had seven people conduct the interview, which took place in New York on Oct. 12.
Henry and team chairman Tom Werner were in New York on other business that week and also met with Cora.
“We left there really impressed with Alex,” said Henry. “His philosophy, the way he broke down our team, the things that he had to say in regard to what he thought he could bring.”
Dombrowski followed through with the interviews of Ausmus and Gardenhire but knew he wanted Cora.
“Everybody at that point said if somebody else is going to be our manager after this, they’re going to be outstanding, because all of us felt so good about Alex,” Dombrowski said.
The Sox then agreed to a three-year contract with Cora with a team option for 2021.
“They moved fast,” Cora said.
Then Cora then asked for No. 28 to honor his older brother Joey, a coach with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Now comes the task of improving a 93-win team that made the playoffs. The Sox didn’t feel that would happen under John Farrell but will under Cora and what will be almost an entirely new coaching staff.
Cora already has ideas about how to help the players on the roster. He wants to see a more aggressive approach at the plate and to better value outs while on the bases.
“There’s stuff they can learn from me and the coaching staff,” Cora said. “They’re going to be better baseball players.”
Here is the transcript from Cora’s news conference:
“Thank you. First of all, I want to thank God to put me in this platform. It’s been a blessed year starting with the winter ball championship, the Caribbean championship, the WBC, the Houston Astros, and now this opportunity, so thank you God for everything. My family, got two of my kids here, Camila and Jeriel. Thank you for being here. The other two, they’re in Houston, Texas, with my mom, my girlfriend Anjelica, my sister and my nephews. The people back home, they’re very excited about this. Thank you to Mr. [John] Henry, Mr. [Tom] Werner, Sam Kennedy, Dave and the front office to give me this opportunity to trust me. I think it’s a perfect situation. I never thought it was going to happen this quick, honestly. For everything I used to say the last few years, I feel like the opportunity was going to come later in my career. To be a bench coach for one year with a wonderful organization, people I really appreciate and we’re going to share something for the rest of our careers, the Houston Astros, Jim Crane, Jeff Luno, A.J. Hinch, and all those players that have a special place in my heart. But to have this opportunity now is great. This is a good baseball team. A team that as you all know has won back-to-back division titles, but at the end of the day in this city, everybody wants to win a world championship. And for that to happen, my goal is for this team to pay attention to details, show up every day and try to take advantage of certain situations during the game, either base-running, defensively, offensively, or pitching. I think that’s going to be the goal of us. We put in a pretty good coaching staff that they relate to me. They’re going to be an extension of me. We’re going to connect with players, be genuine, and be accessible, and that’s the most important thing. This year I learned that talking to players is not bad. Having that good relationship with players is not bad. And doing that, you’re going to get the best out of them. People might think that crossing that line is not helpful, but I see it the other way around and I lived it. You embrace them, you tell them how good they are, and when you have to twist their arm and tell them that that’s not good enough, they’re going to respond to you, and that’s my goal here. I want players to respond to me, respond to the city, and if we do that, we’re going to be in good shape. I was telling earlier, we had a meeting and Boston, for a lot of people, it’s a challenge, but for me it’s not. This is a city that, I understand that they live baseball 24/7. But you know what? I come from a country that we live baseball 24/7. In my family for breakfast, we talk baseball. For lunch, we talk baseball, and for dinner too. My dad was the founder of the Little League chapter in Caguas where I’m from, he passed away in 1998, and that’s what he preached. He preached school and baseball, school and baseball. My mom, if you talk to her, she’ll be around during the season, she’ll talk baseball with you guys. This is going to be fun. On another note, I want to thank the Red Sox organization for helping my country. I think out of the whole thing here, and I know this is great, this is cool, but for you guys to provide a plane for the relief efforts of Puerto Rico after the Hurricane Maria, is awesome. From my end, Dave, I want to give you the flag of my country, just to give you a thank you for what you guys are doing. It’s been a tough month for all of us back home, and like I said after the World Series, to be able to see Carlos Correa, Carlos Beltran, Juan Santana, and Alex Cintrón, talk about our country has been amazing. But for me to be in this platform and know that there’s a lot of people who are able to watch this back home, all I can say, and I’m going to say it in Spanish.”
Q. Can you talk about being the first minority manager of the Red Sox, and secondly, how important will the pitching coach be?
A. “As far as being the first minority manager of the Boston Red Sox, I always said, the last few years, I’m a capable manager. It was going to come down to somebody to give me that opportunity. I never thought that I was getting interviewed because I was a minority. It happens to be. I’m proud to be a Puerto Rican. As you guys know, you guys will see it, you’re going to see that flag, you’re going to see a lot of fans from back home, but I see it that I’m a capable guy. Yeah, the history, I understand and this history throughout the game, there’s not too many Latino managers, there’s not too many minority managers, but there’s 30 capable managers and I’m one of them. The second one about the pitching coach, he’s going to be very important. This is an organization that is going to work hand in hand with the analytic department. With Benny, he’s going to help us out. And the pitching coach that we choose, he’s going to be able to connect with them and connect with me and obviously connect with the pitching staff. This is a talented pitching staff, we know that. I saw it first-hand. They almost pushed us . . . I mean, pushed them . . . to the brink in the first series. We’ll work together. We’ll choose the right one. Whoever it is, it’s going to be a good one.”
Q. During the offseason, going into spring training, without being too specific, can you discuss what level of outreach you’ll have with Red Sox players, particularly veteran players?
A. “Throughout the process, obviously after the interview and after we made the announcement, I have talked to a few of them. Obviously, I was in a tough situation because I was the Red Sox from 8 until 11 and then I became the bench coach for the Houston Astros. I touched bases with them. Told them that I was excited to be here. Obviously throughout the offseason, I’m going to talk to a lot of them, probably visit some of them, and I’m looking forward to it. I know some of them, I don’t know most of them, but before I get to Fort Myers, I want to have a feeling of what they are all about and obviously I want them to understand what I’m all about and what the plans are.”
Q. Thoughts on coming to a city like Boston without any managerial experience?
A. “Yeah, I mean, I get it. I understand experience is important, but in this situation I was as a baseball player, I was a utility guy. I was managed by a lot of good ones. Davey Johnson, Jim Tracey, Tito Francona, and Jerry Manuel. When you’re a utility guy, you have to pay attention to the game. You really do. A lot of people back in the day used to say that I was going to be a future manager. I used to have that statement because I wanted to keep playing. So it seems like they were pushing me out of the game. But I learned a lot from those managers. I learned a lot this year from A.J. Hinch. People don’t give him too much credit sometimes, and I feel this guy’s a superstar. He’s a star, and to be right there with him, we had good times, we had bad times, and we had horrible times, but at the end of the day, we have a ring and we learned a lot. I learned with the analytic department, I learned from Jeff Luno. I don’t think experience is going to be an obstacle for me. I think I’m prepared. I’m surrounded by people from top to bottom that have experience. Dave Dombrowski, Tony La Russa, Ron Roenicke, the coaching staff. These guys, they’ve been around and they’re going to help me out. It’s not about just me. It’s about the staff that is around me, the people that are going to support me, and I’m going to be fine and I’m going to have a blast doing it too. Looking forward for the challenge.”
Q. How much did your experience in Puerto Rico managing winter ball help prepare you for this? And for Dave, you had mentioned experience being maybe more important here than in some other markets. What made you comfortable with Alex?
A. (Cora) “The two years I managed in winter ball, they were tough because I was managing in my hometown. I always joke around whenever I made a bad move the night before, I will go to the bakery to get breakfast and somebody was crushing me right there. I’m used to that. Winter ball is a lot different. It’s a lot different. You have to deal with organizations with restrictions and with guys that get sick all of the sudden, they’re taking a plane the next day and all of the sudden you’re like, ‘Oh, we need a catcher.’ So it’s different, but at the same time, you’re managing people. I think the most important thing about all the jobs I had is that you’re dealing with people, dealing with organizations. And that’s going to help me out throughout the year. The most challenging one out of all the jobs, and I’m going to bring it up, is the WBC. That was challenging. You have a country that you have to please. We had three good shortstops that we needed to find how we were going to play them and all of the sudden you’ve got Correa at third, Lindor at short, and Baez at second, and nobody said anything, so that was a challenge, but at the end of the day it worked out. Out of all the jobs I had before, that was the most challenging, and I learned a lot and I think that that prepared me more than anything else.”
A. (Dombrowski) “For me and for us, it came down to in the past when we talk about gaining experience to manage, we would talk about, ‘Well, go to winter ball to manage for a couple years.’ Well, Alex has done that. It may not be the same as the big leagues by any means, but it is an experience of calling the shots during the game. He was with the WBC. A bench coach to a very well-though-of manager, so experiencing every single play that you’re involved in. And of course I think when you sit down with Alex, there’s some players you talk to, some people in the game that’ve been players that you know manage every single play that they’re in. They’re thinking all the time, thinking what they would be doing, and it was apparent with his intellect and a feel for the game that not managing at the major league level was not a major obstacle for us.”
Q. How much of an advantage do you think it is that you have played here, you have lived here, you know a lot of the people in this organization as you take on this job?
A. “I think it’s very important that I already lived the Red Sox nation experience. To come back is amazing. Living through ‘05, ‘06 wasn’t great for us, and then ‘07 was outstanding, and then in ‘08 we fell short. But like I said before, people, they live baseball here 24/7, and I understand that. I understand that people want to talk about this team and I’m going to be able to talk about this team. That is an obstacle, that is pressure, [but] I don’t see it that way. I just see it as an opportunity. This team is good, that’s the first thing. We’re going to be alright. As a manager, I’m going to be genuine with people and we’re going to do what we’re supposed to do on the field. We’re going to have fun doing it too.”
Q. How many of your former teammates have you heard from?
A. “Man, there’s a lot of people that want to go to Fort Myers. Mike Lowell, Kevin Millar, David Ortiz, obviously Jason Varitek. I didn’t play with [Dustin Pedroia], but Pedey, he’s been very supportive. [Kevin] Youkilis, Kyle Snyder. I mean, there’s a lot of them. There’s a lot of people that, they’re supportive and very happy for this accomplishment. I thank them all. I learned a lot from a lot of people in this organization, the guys that have played. I’m going to take advantage of that and help this team out with that experience.”
Q. Houston is probably the most analytical team in baseball. Do you want your first year to be close to that analytically?
A. “People have the wrong idea about the Houston Astros. Yeah, they do an outstanding job with the numbers and they give them, the Astros, a lot of information. But there’s a balance too. At the end of the day, you have to recognize who’s doing a good job, who’s in a good situation in the clubhouse, who’s ready to play. A.J. Hinch and his staff did an outstanding job recognizing that. The most important thing about the whole analytical world and the coaches, they have to be connection. And we have to understand that there’s a lot of money invested on the analytical department and when they invest money on this, as coaches, you have to embrace the information. Then you have to filter this information and give it to the players. At the end of the day, you know who wins games? The players. Perfect example I was telling Dave: Charlie Morton in the last game. We had a plan going into it, we had Dallas Keuchel in the bullpen, Justin Verlander in the bullpen, but Charlie was rolling and A.J. at one point, he was thinking about hitting for him. I was like, ‘Are you crazy? No, no, no, no.’ He agreed. He laughed. We’ll create a balance. We’re going to have connection with them and we’re going to use the information. There’s going to be different formations, probably defensively, we’re going to help this infield to be better. The outfield, they’re amazing defensively, so we don’t have to make too much adjustments. But there’s going to be certainly adjustments that comes from upstairs that is going to make this team better.”
Q. Is there a manager — as you look at your managing style — that you think you’re closest to?
A. “Well, honestly, the guy that really taught me how to see the game different was Sandy Alomar Sr. He was my manager in winter ball in 2000 and he was a guy that obviously two talented kids in that family, Robbie and Sandy. So he knew what he was talking about. This is what shocked me, he said, ‘The scoreboard is not for the fans; the scoreboard is for the players.’ And I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’ He’s like, ‘The scoreboard is going to dictate the way you’re going to play the game. Tie game. Up one. Up two. The outs. The innings.’ That’s what he meant. So I start watching that and start taking it into my game, like how to play the game. At that time, bunting was cool, moving guys over was awesome, but I learned from him. The other one, it was here in ‘05. Tito came up to me and he said, ‘Alex, are you going to be a big league manager?’ And I’m like, ‘Nah, I don’t know about that. I don’t know if I want to do it.’ And he’s like, ‘Well, you will be. And the most important thing you have to do as a manager, you have to delegate. You have to trust your coaches.’ And I saw it first hand this year. The staff that we’re putting together, I’m very excited. I’m very happy that we have those guys. I’m going to delegate because I can’t do it all. Like I said before, this is going to be a team effort and we’re going to be good because everybody’s together. We’re going to be connected.”
Q. You were on the short list for a lot of managerial openings. You reportedly pulled out of consideration for one. There were others that opened after you interviewed here. What made this where you wanted to be?
A. “Because they move fast. No, honestly, going into the whole process and all the teams that called, great teams, great situations, but this, I played here. This is home for me. Yeah, I played with Dodgers for five and half years, but to come here and win a championship and being part of this atmosphere was amazing. The kids, they love it here. My family, they like it. When the Red Sox call, when Dave gave me that call, I was like, ‘Wow, this might happen.’ Something about this place that pushes you. There’s not offdays here at Fenway Park. If you need something to push you that day, well, you look around and the fans will be here and they’re going to push you to be the best. That game, the last four games of the regular season, the two playoff games, the two playoff games were awesome. That game, Game 3 and Game 4, the fans were into. This place was alive. I have flashbacks, looking back, what we did in ‘07 and ‘08, and I was like, ‘This is fun.’ At that point, I didn’t know what was going to happen, but then it came up and I was like, ‘Hopefully, they give me a call.’ And they did. Like I said before, we’re glad to be back here. We’re very excited. Looking forward to the opportunity and looking forward to win championships.”
Q. What went into your decision to have Ron Roenicke be your bench coach and how do you see that relationship playing out this season?
A. “I played for Roenicke in 1997 in Double A for the San Antonio Missions, so I have a relationship with him. He was part of the Dodger organization. At that time, our minor league system, the coaching staff, was considered probably the best in the business. So he knows baseball. Second of all, coaching against him this year, he was the guy that you had to pay attention with the Angels. He’s in tune with the game. The running game, we always talk about the Angels going first to third and being one of the base-running teams in the big leagues. A big part of why that happened is Ron Roenicke. This is a guy that he understands the game. When I talked to him, it was like a 45-[minute], an hour conversation. We caught up, and Dave, he was very impressed with Ron. He was the perfect guy. This guy’s going to help me out. This guy, I know he was a manager. I understand that’s very important. He’s going to pull me aside, he’s not going to be afraid to tell me, ‘Alex, don’t do that,’ or, ‘Do this.’ He’s going to help me out. But at the same time, he’s going to make players better. Had a conversation with Cameron Maybin throughout the playoffs, and he’s like, ‘Alex, man, if that happens, that’s a plus for you.’ So that’s what I needed to hear. He’s going to be great for us.”
Q. Have you had any contact with any of the current players and if not what is your plan to do that?
A. “Yeah, with a few of them. It was tough. Just the traveling and being locked in in the World Series. Like I said, my goal this season was to win a World Series with those guys, with that organization, and we accomplished that. But it wasn’t easy in the sense that you have to be, like I said before, I was the manager of the Red Sox for three hours and then, boom, let’s go be the bench coach. I called a few. They knew I’m here for them. They’re very excited that this happened and looking forward to talk to them over the course of the offseason, visit some of them, and just tell them what the plans are, and be ready for next year.”
Q. Dave, why is Alex the right fit at this time for Boston?
A. “Well, you can see, he loves Boston. He embraces being in Boston and as he talks about talking baseball all the time, being in a position where that’s not overwhelming. As I was talking to different people, one person I talked to was A.J. Hinch. I’ve known A.J. for a long time. He told me, ‘Well with Alex,’ he said, ‘Just remember, he’s baseball. Baseball 24/7. I’ll get a text at 11 o’clock at night like, did you see the pick-off move on such-and-such, I’m watching this. We got to pay attention, it might help us win a ball game tomorrow.’ So he embraces it, and I think that that’s very important. So for me, not everybody does that. I think people can be overwhelmed. I mean, look at here at the attention that you get. But he’s a person that’s experienced it, he’ll experience it in a different fashion being the manager, but I think it’ll be a situation that he thrives on, rather than is the opposite way.”
Q. How much will this postseason experience help you going forward?
A. “It’s going to help me out a lot. Going through the whole playoffs. Coming here — and sorry to say it, but clinch it here — that helped us. Teaches kids how to deal with adversity. To come here with a packed house and the pressure of not going to Game 5, we learned a lot. I learned a lot from him [Hinch], how to handle the numbers and how to handle people and how to handle coaches, obviously players. He’s outstanding. I think the timing was perfect. It worked out perfect. He gave me a call, I think it was November last year, and at that time, the whole TV thing wasn’t working. There were some changes coming. So I was like, ‘You know what? If I want to be a big league manager . . .’ I interviewed with Mike [Hazen] last year with the D-Backs and Tony was in the interview room and Mike told me that experience was a big factor and I was like, ‘Well, if you want to become a big league manager, you have to dress up and do it.’ To go to that situation with that talent [in Houston] and win it all, it made me better. I know it made me better and it’s going to help me out throughout my career.”
Q. When it comes to relationships with players, can you have the same relationship with guys that you did as a player, as a bench coach, as a manager and is there such a thing as being too close to players as a manager?
A. “No, the too close to players, that doesn’t exist. I think throughout the process, the learning process with the Houston Astros, I lived one that was special for me. Carlos Beltran. I played with Carlos Beltran, against Carlos Beltran when we were 17 years old and we played against each other in winter ball and we played together with the Mets and we became good friends. I have a great relationship with Carlos off the field with his family, Jessica, amazing. Throughout the season, although Carlos was huge for the Houston Astros, as far as the performance wasn’t what we wanted and I had to be honest with him and we talked and we were still close. The whole thing about drawing the line, they understand that. But at the same time, they’re human beings, man, and you got to talk to them. You got to see how they feel. I’m going to encourage my coaching staff to get close to players. Alex Bregman, for example. We’re cool. He probably thinks I’m his older brother. I feel the sameway. But at the time to push him, I was able to push him because you have a good relationship and then they understand that, ‘Hey, he’s not doing it just to get on me. He’s doing it because he wants me to get better.’ And that’s what happened over that and I’m going to bring it over here.”
Q. You were a big part of the clubhouses when you were here. What do you want to prioritize when it comes to the clubhouse atmosphere, the clubhouse dynamic?
A. “For them to get along. It can’t be only the baseball relationship; you got to care about each other. That’s the most important thing. The years I played here, you guys felt like Mikey Lowell and myself, we were the bridge of those teams. We got along with everybody. It really didn’t matter because at the end of the day we knew that baseball is baseball and we have to win games, but there’s more about baseball. Like I said before, I have guys that call me and they care about me and they were very happy for me because I’m here. That’s what starts those relationships. The other thing about the clubhouse, one thing I would love to hear music after the game when we win. That’s the cool part of the whole thing. Play music, enjoy, enjoy the moment because at the end of the day to win a big league ballgame is hard. It’s hard enough. And if you don’t enjoy it, if you don’t have fun doing it, it’s going to get to the point where it’s going to be like, blah. This is not fun. We’re going to celebrate every win, hopefully, and we’ll celebrate that last one at the end of the season, too.”
Q. Over the last year, how much has your view on what on offense should consist of evolved?
A. “Offensively, everybody loves the homers. We get it. But I think the key of an offense is to have a consistent approach. Hunting pitches that you can do damage with. The first pitch or a 2-0 pitch. Sometimes the first pitch available is the one that you can do damage on, so we’re going to have guys ready to do damage early in the count, regardless. Be ready to hit. If it’s not where you want it, just take it. These guys on the mound, man, they’re tough. They’re different now. Everybody’s throwing 97, 98. Everybody goes up in the zone, 0-2. We got guys throughout the lead that chase pitches, so we want guys to be ready to hit and do damage. That’s the most important thing. Base running is another way that you can take advantage of the opposition. In an era that there’s a lot of people ‘out of positions,’ you can put pressure on defenses. Stealing bases. I think with the Red Sox over the years have an outstanding job. It’s another tool, another weapon that you can take advantage of it. We have a bunch of athletes here. We’re going to preach that. It should be fun. It’s not going to be one way that we’re going to beat you, but we’re going to find a lot of ways to take advantage of your weaknesses and try to take advantage and win games.”
Q. Does your relationship with Carlos Beltran provide any guidance in managing Dustin Pedroia?
A. “First of all, and I want to make this clear, the relationship with me and Dustin Pedroia is going to be forever. Kelly Pedroia with my kids, that relationship with my kids is always going to be there. I love that kid. I love his family. They’ve been amazing for us. That’s not going to change. As a player, I think Pedey always looked up to me like as a mentor, as a teacher. This is not going to change. He understands that back in the day when he was hitting .120 and everybody wanted me to play every day and he was not the Laser Show, I was the one supporting him, me and Mike Lowell. We were with him. We trusted him. We were helping him out. Nothing is going to change. This kid — well, he’s older now, and he has a bad hairdo too — we’ll take about him shaving his head too. He’s going to help us out. Talking to him, he’s very excited. He understands that I’m the manager and he’s a player, but looking forward to managing him. I think that with the attitude he brings, with the passion he has for the game, all he can do is help. We need him healthy, that’s the most important thing, but when Dustin Pedroia is healthy, he can help any baseball team. Hey, I’m happy he’s on my team.”
Here is some of our coverage of Cora since the Sox announced his hiring:
■ Nick Cafardo: Cora has a lot of things to figure out quickly with Red Sox
■ Peter Abraham: Cora is all about making connections
■ Dan Shaughnessy: World Series title in hand, Cora can turn attention to Red Sox
■ Alex Speier: Cora is well-versed for his challenge in Boston
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