Alex Cora thrilled with Red Sox’ selection of Matthew Lugo
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Few people are more invested in the success of baseball in Puerto Rico than Red Sox manager Alex Cora.
Cora played for Puerto Rico in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic and was general manager of the team that finished second in the 2017 WBC.
He also managed Caguas in the Puerto Rican Winter League for two seasons and was the team’s GM for five seasons. There have been countess clinics for youth players along the way, too.
So Cora was thrilled when the Red Sox drafted shortstop Matthew Lugo from Puerto Rico in the second round of the draft Monday.
Cora knew Lugo was projected to be taken on the first day but had no influence on the Red Sox taking him.
“None whatsoever,” he said Tuesday before the Red Sox beat the Kansas City Royals, 8-3. “I was actually surprised and excited. It’s cool he’s with us.”
Lugo, who is from Manati, was the first player from Puerto Rico taken in the draft this year, going 69th overall. He is the nephew of former major league All-Star Carlos Beltran and played for the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy.
“I know the kid from going to the academy,” Cora said. “Very disciplined, good athlete . . . I went there in the offseason and spent a day with them.”
Cora spoke to Lugo on Tuesday morning.
“I’m glad that it happened. We have some talent down there. But everybody knew last year he was the best player in Puerto Rico,” Cora said. “I’m glad that we had a shot to get him and we did.”
Cora also called University of Arizona assistant coach Sergio Brown to get a report on infielder Cameron Cannon, whom the Sox took with the 43rd pick.
“Good defender up the middle; the bat will play. That’s what everybody’s saying,” Cora said. “Both [Cannon and Lugo] are very athletic, which is very important for us. Athletic, fast guys — that’s where the game is going.”
Chris Sale is scheduled to start the second game of the series Wednesday. But Rick Porcello will get an extra day off Thursday and either Ryan Weber or rookie Mike Shawaryn will get the start.
Porcello would start on Friday against Tampa Bay at Fenway Park with David Price on Saturday in one of the games of the doubleheader.
The Sox won’t need two spot starters for the doubleheader by pushing Porcello and Price back a day.
Weber has started two games this season, allowing eight earned runs on 11 hits over 10 innings.
Shawaryn was called up from Triple A Pawtucket on Thursday and has yet to appear in a game. The 24-year-old righthander was 1-2 with a 3.72 earned run average in 10 starts for the PawSox, the last one coming May 26.
A 10-day break between starts between games would not be ideal.
“It’s just the way it is right now,” Cora said.
Sale is 1-7 with a 4.35 ERA. Through Monday, he was tied for the major league in losses with four other pitchers.
Nathan Eovaldi pitched a two-inning simulated game, throwing 36 pitches to four teammates after warming up with 36 pitches in the bullpen.
Eovaldi’s next assignment could be a minor league game early next week as he continues what has so far been a smooth return from elbow surgery.
First baseman Mitch Moreland, who is on the injured list with a lower back strain, has been hitting off a tee at Fenway Park and could be activated as soon as Friday.
“Everything is going fine,” Cora said. “We feel that way.”
Steve Pearce, also out with a back injury, returned to Boston and is not yet working out.
Lefthander Brian Johnson allowed one run on two hits over three innings Tuesday as a starter for Pawtucket. He walked two, struck out one, and threw 48 pitches.
Johnson, who is on the injured list with an elbow strain, has an 8.44 ERA over five games and 10⅔ innings on his rehabilitation assignment.
Johnson is likely to pitch one more game in the minors before being activated, although that could change depending on what the Red Sox need this weekend.
Rafael Devers, who was named the American League Player of the Month for May on Monday, was asked how he celebrated. “I slept all day,” he said. “I was tired.” Devers, 22, was the youngest Red Sox player to win the award since it started in 1974 . . . A young man in the stands wearing a Red Sox cap and jersey held up a sign that said, “I’m here for my B-Day but what I really want is to meet Mookie!!” Cora brought him down on the field before batting practice and the kid met Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Michael Chavis, and others . . . The Royals left flowers and a Red Sox cap at an open spot in the press box at Kauffman Stadium in memory of Globe baseball writer Nick Cafardo, who passed away in February.