Nothing about the Red Sox’ day off Thursday was normal, but as an organization, manager Alex Cora said it was all expected.
While half the team paid a visit to the White House to be honored by President Donald Trump for their 2018 World Series victory, the other half — including Cora — chose not to attend.
The decisions — and the reasons behind them — were a looming question from the time the Sox won the championship in October and were only magnified as the trip grew closer.
For his part, Cora spent the day with his family. He made it clear that his decision not to go to the White House was another instance of using his voice to ensure that his native Puerto Rico, still recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017, wasn’t forgotten. But he reiterated his reasoning when asked about it again the day after as the Sox prepared for their series opener against the Seattle Mariners.
“That’s the route we decided and we’re [respecting] everything and we’re fine with it. Back to play baseball today,” Cora said. “We knew the day was going to be like that. In my world, I decided not to go for my reasons. If you read what I said — not only the headline, don’t read the headline, read what I said — the government has helped, but we still have a long way to go. That’s our reality. Just to throw that out there. But it was a good day for me. I was with the kids. Hung out with them.”
The Sox went 5-2 on their seven-game road trip, capping it with a 2-1, 12-inning win over the Orioles on Wednesday that put them at 19-19 as the Mariners came into Fenway for the first time. The Sox started the season in Seattle and lost three of four.
“Like I said on Wednesday, that was a great testament of us as a team,” Cora said. “We played well, it was a grind, and we ended up winning. Now today, ironic enough, we’re playing .500 baseball against Seattle. It’s not Opening Day, but hopefully from now on it’s just baseball and we go from there.”
Sox reliever Matt Barnes called the White House experience an honor.
“I thought it was awesome,” Barnes said. “It was a humbling experience to be able to go there. I enjoyed it. I thought it was an honor. I’m glad that I was able to be there.”
He also pointed to how valuable it was to visit Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
“Any time that we have the opportunity to go visit them and try and provide any sort of help or smiles or just interact with them,” Barnes said, “it’s truly a rewarding experience for us and it was an honor to be there.
“It’s awesome. I was talking to one of the guys and he said when he got fully healthy and he was able to get back at it, he wanted to try out for the national soccer amputee team. So when you talk to them, it really is an amazing experience.”
Despite the attention that came with each player’s individual decisions to attend the White House ceremony, Cora said he was proud of the team’s ability to remain unified on the field.
“Things work for a reason,” Cora said. “We didn’t play well at the beginning, we’re playing well now. I think that was the last celebration since Oct. 28, so let’s play good baseball so we can have some celebrations in the offseason.”
Price on mend
Starter David Price has been making continual improvement since going on the injured list May 6 (retroactive to May 3) with left elbow tendinitis.
He played catch Friday after throwing in Baltimore while the Sox were there and will meet with Cora to set a course of action going forward.
“It seems like he’s in a good place,” Cora said. “So we’ll sit down. David’s a guy that I trust, as far as he knows himself and he knows what he needs to do to compete at that level. So we’ll see how he reacts at that level and how he feels and talk to him. Obviously, we want to throw a bullpen or two in between and go from there.”
Off days on Monday and Thursday also play a part in how the team will handle their plans for Price. Price can come off the IL Thursday.
Busy weekend for Pedroia
Wet conditions earlier in the week spoiled plans to see how second baseman Dustin Pedroia would respond to playing three straight games on his rehab assignment with Double A Portland.
But Pedroia will try again this weekend while the Sea Dogs are in Trenton to play the Thunder. Pedroia traveled to Trenton on Friday and is scheduled to play three games from Saturday to Monday.
In five rehab games, Pedroia is 4 for 16 with an RBI, two strikeouts, no walks, and no extra-base hits.
Cora said he exchanged texts with Pedroia Thursday.
“He feels fine,” Cora said. “He’s actually very happy with the swing. I don’t know the numbers or whatever, but he feels like he’s been able to catch up with some fastballs. Actually, there’s more velo in Double A than Triple A. In Double A, there’s guys that throw harder, there’s better stuff. But he feels good. Defensively, he’s fine. He’s moving around. He’s been running the bases, too. Went from first to third the other day, he’s been reacting well to it. No setbacks. The goal is for him to play three in a row.”
Collecting for a cause
Led by Tiffany Price, the Red Sox wives are taking on the issue of affordable housing by partnering with Habitat For Humanity Greater Boston to build homes throughout the season, plus raise $30,000 for the nonprofit organization. The wives will collect donations at the Fenway gates starting Saturday from the time they open through the second inning. Construction of the first of six houses will start this month on Balina Place in Dorchester. The last will begin in September . . . After being shut down with a shoulder injury just as he was recovering from a scratched right cornea, utilityman Brock Holt is set to restart his rehab assignment as soon as Sunday . . . Lefthander Brian Johnson, on the injured list since April 6 with left elbow inflammation, is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Saturday. “He’s doing great,” Cora said. “I don’t know if it’s going to be an up and down or a simulated game. It’s a day game [Saturday], so we’ll find a slot with him and do that and after that we’ll decide what we’re going to do with him, too” . . . The Sox still haven’t announced a starter for Sunday. They have options with Hector Velazquez, Ryan Weber, and Josh Smith . . . Tzu-Wei Lin, on the IL since May 4 with a left knee sprain, is with the team getting treatment . . . The Mariners announced a series of roster moves prior to Friday’s game. Infielders J.P. Crawford and Shed Long were recalled from Triple A Tacoma. Infielder Dylan Moore was placed on the 10-day IL with a right wrist contusion. Righthanded pitcher Chasen Bradford was optioned to Tacoma . . . Mariners manager Scott Servais is attending his daughter’s graduation. Bench coach Manny Acta served as manager.
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.