If Alex Cora is going to end his outrageously successful first season as manager of the Red Sox by winning the World Series, it seems only fitting that it would come against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers drafted Cora out of the University of Miami in 1996 and he made his debut with them two years later. Cora spent nine seasons in all with the Dodgers.
“This is a special organization for me and my family,” Cora said Sunday before the Sox worked out at Fenway Park. “They gave me my shot to play in the big leagues.”
Cora played three seasons in Los Angeles with Dave Roberts, now the Dodgers manager and still a good friend. Jaime Jarrin, the team’s Hall of Fame Spanish broadcaster, called Cora on Saturday to say he was looking forward to seeing him in the Series.
Cora also has a great reverence for retired Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully.
“There’s a lot of history between these two franchises,” Cora said.
Cora and Roberts will be the first former teammates to meet in the World Series as managers since Mike Scioscia of the Angels and Dusty Baker of the Giants in 2002. They were Dodgers, too.
Cora and Roberts each played for the Dodgers and Sox in their careers. That will be a World Series first, the respective managers having played for both teams.
“To manage against Dave is going to be special,” Cora said. “He really cares; he’s very passionate. Nobody thought that he was going to be the guy a few years ago. Since then they have dominated that division.
“You can see the passion and the emotion. It’ll be great.”
The Dodgers beat the Milwaukee Brewers, 5-1, in Game 7 of the NLCS on Saturday then flew to Boston late Sunday afternoon. The teams will have a workout at Fenway Park on Monday before Game 1 at 8:09 p.m. on Tuesday.
Chris Sale starts for the Red Sox. The Dodgers have not named their starter.
When the teams are introduced on Tuesday, Roberts is sure to get a warm reception from the fans given his special place in Red Sox history.
“I still remember in 2004 when he got traded,” Cora said. “We were in San Diego at that time. We had the best team in the National League West. He got called into the office by [manager] Jim Tracy and they told him he got traded to the Red Sox.
“He was down, upset. It was a good group. We felt that we had something special going on. And I still remember, I told him, ‘Hey man, you’re going to a great baseball city. You never know what can happen. Just enjoy the ride.’ ”
What happened, of course, is that Roberts pinch ran for Kevin Millar in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees, stole second base, and then scored the tying run when Bill Mueller singled.
Cora said he spoke to Roberts after that game and told him he could become a hero.
It proved true. The Sox went on to win that game and didn’t lose again that season. They came back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Yankees and swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series for the franchise’s first title since 1918.
Roberts was traded to the Padres after the season and played four more seasons in the majors. He worked for NESN in 2009 then went into coaching. This is Roberts’s third season managing the Dodgers and he has twice guided them to the World Series.
“Great guy; great family guy. A friend of mine,” Cora said. “I’ve been pulling for him for a while. He’s done an outstanding job with an outstanding organization. I’m very proud that he’s here in the World Series.”
The Sox played the then Brooklyn Robbins in the 1916 World Series and beat them in five games behind Ernie Shore and a 21-year-old lefthanded pitcher named Babe Ruth.
The Dodgers of that time had future Hall of Famer Rube Marquard on the mound and Casey Stengel playing right field.
The Sox will have ample information in advance of the series.
They’ve had scouts on the Dodgers since September and Cora is working from a good base of knowledge gained last season when he helped the Astros prepare for the World Series.
Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers was assistant hitting coach of the Dodgers from 2016-17 and knows their roster well. He should be of particular assistance to the Sox pitchers.
The Sox coaches, scouts and analytics staff met Sunday to game plan for the Series. That information will go to the players on Monday.
“We’ll add it up on Tuesday and we’ll be ready,” Cora said.