Red Sox manager Alex Cora will skip White House visit
CHICAGO — Manager Alex Cora will not join the Red Sox on Thursday when the World Series champions are honored at the White House.
Cora said Sunday he would not be comfortable making the trip, given what he considers the Trump administration’s poor treatment of his native Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria struck the island in 2017.
“It’s pretty tough to go celebrate where we’re at. I’d rather not go and just be consistent with everything,” Cora said.
He said in November that he would attend but reversed that decision in January, saying he was undecided after talking it over with his mother and other family members.
“The closest ones to me, we talked about it and we decided it’s the best way to do it,” Cora told reporters Sunday after the Red Sox’ 9-2 victory over the White Sox.
The decision whether to visit the White House has roughly split the team.
Mookie Betts, the 2018 American League Most Valuable Player, said in January he would not attend. Xander Bogaerts joined him on Sunday, saying simply that “I won’t be going.” David Price, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Rafael Devers made the same decision along with catcher Christian Vazquez, who is from Puerto Rico.
J.D. Martinez, Chris Sale, Mitch Moreland, and World Series MVP Steve Pearce have said they would go to the White House, as have Brock Holt, Matt Barnes, and Brandon Workman.
Other players have said they were undecided.
The Red Sox have said the trip is optional for all players, coaches, and staff members.
Principal owner John Henry, who also owns the Globe, and team chairman Tom Werner have said they would attend. So have team president Sam Kennedy and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.
The Red Sox are scheduled for a Rose Garden ceremony on Thursday afternoon, a day off for the team.
The team has scheduled two charter flights, one back to Boston after Wednesday’s game in Baltimore and one on Thursday, also from Baltimore, after the ceremony.
The Red Sox were originally scheduled to visit the White House in February but that was postponed because of the government shutdown.
When the trip was rescheduled, Cora again expressed reticence. His final decision came a few days ago, and he made it public in a written statement to the Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia.
“Puerto Rico is very important to me. During the winter I spent a lot of time back home, visiting my family and friends. Unfortunately, we are still struggling, still fighting,” Cora told the newspaper.
“Some people still lack basic necessities, others remain without electricity and many homes and schools are in pretty bad shape almost a year and a half after Hurricane Maria struck.
“Even though the United States Government has helped, there’s still a long road ahead and that is OUR reality. I’ve used my voice on many occasions so that Puerto Ricans are not forgotten and my absence [from the White House] is no different. As such, at this moment, I don’t feel comfortable celebrating in the White House.”
Cora said on Sunday he is not concerned with any negative reaction.
“One thing for me, I do things with conviction. That’s who I am,” he said. “I talked to a lot of people. I think at the end the closest ones to me, they understand where I’m coming from.”