The World Series champion Red Sox have accepted an invitation to visit the White House, team president Sam Kennedy said Monday night.
No date has been set. It could be in February, March or April.
“We’re just starting to look at that now,” Kennedy said. “We’ve accepted.”
No Red Sox players will be required to attend an event that has become politically charged during the Trump presidency.
“Like in the past, it’s an invitation. It’s not a mandatory command performance,” Kennedy said. “It’s a great opportunity for the players, an invitation for the players and ownership. It’s a great opportunity for those guys to go to the White House and get the behind-the-scenes tour and get the recognition they deserve for the world championship.”
Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who in September defended his homeland of Puerto Rico from what he described as “disrespectful” comments by Trump, said he would attend the ceremony.
“I’m going to use my platform the right way,” Cora said. “I’m not going to embarrass anybody. Actually I’m going to represent probably 4 million people from back home the right way when we go there. Yes, I will go.”
The White House visit for championship teams is not the innocuous tradition it once was.
When the Patriots last won the Super Bowl, in 2017, only 34 players attended a White House ceremony in April. Tom Brady was among those who skipped the trip.
Trump rescinded an invitation to the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles last spring after it became clear only a small delegation would attend.
When the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros visited last March, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Correa were notable absences.
No NBA champion has visited the White House since the 2015 Golden State Warriors did in 2016 during Barack Obama’s presidency.
More so than the players, the spotlight this time could be on Cora.
When Trump tried to downplay how many Puerto Ricans died as a result of Hurricane Maria in 2017, Cora pushed back.
“I respect him. He’s the president of the United States. But I don’t agree with a lot of stuff that he says about us,” Cora said at the time.
“The after-effects, people don’t talk about that. When you don’t have food, you don’t have water, no communication, no medicine. Then this happens.
“One thing for sure, the government helped. We do feel that they helped us. I don’t know if it was efficient, it was enough. I don’t know.”
With the exception of a few players who had joined other teams, every member of the 2013 champion Red Sox visited the Obama White House in 2014.
The only controversy in those simpler times was David Ortiz fulfilling an endorsement agreement by taking a selfie with Obama using a particular cell phone.