LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The presentation the Red Sox sent to Shohei Ohtani last month was the culmination of two years of work that included trips to Japan to watch him play.
Two of the team’s top evaluators, senior vice president of player personnel Allard Baird and vice president of player personnel Jared Banner, led a group that put together a multi-media presentation for Ohtani.
The Sox were convinced their plan to use Ohtani as both a pitcher and hitter would give them a chance to meet with him in person and further their hopes of bringing the two-way star to Boston.
Instead, the Sox were swiftly eliminated along with 20 other teams on Dec. 3. Ohtani then met with seven teams and signed with the Los Angeles Angels last Friday.
“We were very surprised that we weren’t selected as a finalist,” vice president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said on Tuesday. “I thought our presentation was outstanding. I thought we met a lot of the criteria that was presented to us, and what was going to be important. It didn’t make any difference.”
Whether Ohtani even looked at what the Red Sox sent him isn’t clear. He also eliminated the Yankees and every other team east of the Mississippi.
Geography appears to have made all the difference.
“We were told originally that that wasn’t important,” Dombrowski said. “I don’t know if it was or was not. But if you looked at the final results it looked like it was important.”
Neither Ohtani nor his agent, Nez Balelo, offered any explanation to the Sox.
Count new Sox manager Alex Cora as a fan of Hanley Ramirez. It has a lot to do with watching him go 8 of 14 with two doubles in the Division Series.
“The last impression I have of him were really good at-bats in October and he was motivated. He’s a guy, when healthy and with motivation, he can be dangerous,” Cora said.
“I’ve been in contact with him we have been talking about it, and I’m looking forward to seeing his at-bats.”
Ramirez needs only 497 plate appearances to trigger a $22 million option for 2019. He has hit .260 with a .784 OPS in three seasons with the Sox.
Prior to being signed to what is now a burdensome contract, Ramirez hit .300 with an .873 OPS.
“I want to see that guy again,’’ Cora said. “We saw it in Miami. We saw it with the Dodgers. We saw flashes in Boston. So I think he’s going to be OK and his performance is going to make me put that guy out in the middle of the lineup.”
Hinch defends Cora
NBC Sports Boston reported earlier this month that Cora had loud “confrontations” with Astros manager A.J. Hinch and broadcaster Geoff Blum after a game on Aug. 31.
Cora quickly apologized at the time.
Dombrowski was not aware of the incident when he hired Cora, but did say Hinch vouched for his bench coach’s character during the process of vetting him.
Hinch defended Cora again on Tuesday.
“I think you would be amazed at how much that goes on first off,” Hinch said. “No. 2, I never really considered it a huge issue.
“I think we have brotherly squabbles or you have disagreements or you have moments of high stress.
“It’s going to boil over from time to time. I thought he handled himself well. I thought he handled the responsibilities that I needed as a manager and I was his biggest advocate and biggest supporter moving forward because I believe in him.”
Caught in the draft
The Red Sox have one spot open on their 40-man roster and could theoretically select a minor league prospect in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday. Dombrowski said the idea was discussed. But given their other needs, the Sox likely are going to have to open at least one other spot on their roster at some point . . . Dombrowski said the Sox have hired a manager for Double A Portland to replace Carlos Febles, now the third base coach. But the team was not prepared to release even that bit of news.