TORONTO — With the caveat that no one but Alex Cora knows his every thought, it feels safe to assume the Red Sox manager did not go to sleep Tuesday night tossing and turning from vexation regarding Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman.
By Wednesday afternoon, though, Cora was answering questions about a kerfuffle he didn’t know he’d created when he said after Toronto’s 10-3 win that Stroman, who pitched well for six innings, “competes a certain way and people don’t like it.”
Cora’s comments were made because of a few extracurriculars involving members of the Red Sox and Stroman, an emotional pitcher who often gets under opponents’ skin. In the fourth inning, Stroman arguably quick-pitched Red Sox rookie Michael Chavis after Chavis had called time out, potentially disrupting Stroman’s rhythm. Stroman had words with Chavis, then later got into it with Chris Sale after he stared into the Sox dugout after a strikeout. It was all pretty minor stuff, but Cora was asked after the game what had happened because it looked like he, too, might have been barking at Stroman.
Cora said that he was actually talking to the home plate umpire, Alan Porter, since the crew had stepped in to diffuse the situation when Stroman and Sale were yapping at each other. In person and considering tone, the full answer gave the impression that Cora didn’t think any of it was a big deal.
“I was telling Alan that if he’s going to get on our guys to get on him,” Cora said. “It’s the same thing with him every day. He competes a certain way and people don’t like it and it seems like whenever a team that I’m on [faces him], somebody screams at him. I don’t know. That’s the way he acts. He’s a good pitcher and he gets motivated in different ways. Some people like it, some people don’t, so whatever.”
That said, Cora’s comments did create headlines, some of which Stroman saw and responded to on Twitter Wednesday. In one post, Stroman wrote that he “didn’t know I had to cater to opposing teams to like me,” and, in another, he wrote that Cora was probably “still mad” that he chose to play for Team USA instead of Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. Cora was the manager for Puerto Rico and put the team together.
Which brings us to Wednesday afternoon, when Cora was asked for his reaction to Stroman’s reaction.
“That’s the way he pitches and we’ve seen it and it works for him. Like I said, he’s a good pitcher and if you ask around the league there’s people that like it, there’s people that don’t like it,” Cora said. “I know he doesn’t care because he keeps doing it and it works for him.”
Cora said he had nothing against Stroman and didn’t have a problem with the quick-pitch or how he handled the WBC. Cora said he had a nice conversation with Stroman, whose mother is from Puerto Rico, about potentially getting together to do something to support Puerto Rico in the future after the pitcher told him he’d be playing for Team USA.
“I have no hard feelings to Marcus Stroman because he pitched for Team USA,” Cora said. “Honestly, that tournament was one of the highlights of my career. I had a blast with those kids, we united a country back home in need, and I had a blast. It was awesome.”
Cora said that all he wanted was for Porter to get on Stroman for yelling at Sale if he was going to get on Sale for yelling at Stroman. This is all probably no big deal, other than the fact that the Red Sox could face Stroman again this season.
Back bothers Martinez
J.D. Martinez got over his stomach bug but was out of the lineup on Wednesday night because his back tightened up on him.
Martinez didn’t play Tuesday because he was sick, but he seemed to be feeling better and was in good spirits (good enough to giggle and pantomime throwing up on a reporter’s shoes) after the game.
His back tightened when he was taking swings in the cage Wednesday, Cora said. Martinez could miss Thursday afternoon’s game as well, though Cora hoped that wouldn’t be necessary.
“He showed up today, he was feeling better, he went to the cage, he swung, and you know, it’s not where he wants to be with the turf and obviously the day game tomorrow,” Cora said.
Dustin Pedroia and Brock Holt both continued their rehab assignments Wednesday, with Pedroia playing second base and Holt shortstop for Triple A Pawtucket. Both played seven innings at those respective positions on Tuesday. Holt played seven innings again Wednesday and went 1 for 3 with a walk and a strikeout. Pedroia was replaced by a pinch runner after he walked to leadoff the eighth. Pedroia went 0 for 3 with a walk and two strikeouts.
Cora said that Pedroia will probably join Double A Portland over the weekend to continue his rehab instead of staying with the PawSox. Holt’s rehab assignment could be finished soon.
“We’ll talk about it tonight, see where we’re at,” Cora said Wednesday afternoon.
Pitcher Brian Johnson will stay with Double A Portland for “probably two more” rehab starts, Cora said. Johnson pitched Tuesday and felt he wasn’t ready to come back to the majors. Cora said that Johnson’s delivery has been inconsistent and he needs to get his arm speed back to get his windup right before he’ll be ready.
Weber gets start
Ryan Weber will start Thursday’s game, Cora said. The choice was between Weber and Hector Velazquez, but Cora went with Weber because he wants to keep Velazquez’s current role coming out of the bullpen more consistent.