Disappointment and sadness spilled through Fenway Park Wednesday afternoon.
The Red Sox’ decision Tuesday night to mutually part ways with manager Alex Cora after his involvement in the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal in 2017 struck a chord within the organization. The evidence in Major League Baseball’s nine-page report that named Cora 11 times was too convincing, too much of a distraction, for the Red Sox heading into a 2020 season that already had a lot of question marks.
“I think what Alex did was wrong, and I think he would agree to that,” Sox chairman Tom Werner said during a news conference. “If you think about what’s in the best interest of the Boston Red Sox, I think we would all agree that moving forward would be very difficult.”
Moving forward with Cora would have been difficult, but filling the void left by Cora might prove even tougher. Cora impacted too many players, he understood the organization from top to bottom.
“Alex is an incredibly talented manager,” team president Sam Kennedy said. “He’s accomplished great things with us. He’s expressed remorse, apologized yesterday to us for the embarrassment that this has caused. I think he’ll go through a process of rehabilitation. He’s an extreme talent.”
Said Sox principal owner John Henry: “We’re going to miss just about everything. He was a tremendous manager for us on all levels.”
Cora was a manager of conviction and never second-guessed his in-game decisions. He accepted analytics, while also understanding the human part of the game. Cora was able to get the most out of his players. One in particular, Eduardo Rodriguez, went to Instagram to express his appreciation.
“My brother,” Rodriguez posted. “More than my manager, you were a friend, a counselor during these two years. I learned a lot from you. Thank you for everything.”
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Mi hermano mas que mi manager fuiste un amigo un pana y consejero durante estos dos años aprendí mucho de ti gracias por todo gracias por eso jalones de oreja como decimos en Venezuela que fueron parte de todo lo que aprendí de ti te deseo lo mejor de mundo de aquí en adelante para ti y tu familia My brother, more than my manager, you were a friend, a pana and advisor during these two years, I learned a lot from you, thank you for everything, thanks for those ear pulls as we say in Venezuela that were part of everything I learned from you. I wish you the best in the world from now on for you and your family #familyforever #AC @ac13alex
Now comes the daunting task, one that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom described as “an unusual time to be doing a managerial search.”
The Red Sox will look at external and internal options to fill their managerial opening, but Bloom noted that it wouldn’t be out of the question that the team could hire an interim manager considering it’s just a month before players report to spring training.
This was not in the plan. When Bloom took the job he imagined working with Cora. Cora had the backing of the front office and the rest of the staff. Bloom heard nothing but good things about the manager until, of course, the cheating scandal. So, this was also a gut punch for Bloom, who looked forward to working with Cora.
“It’s really disappointing,” Bloom said. “I told you guys on that day [when I got hired] that I had really high regard for his talent as a manager. I still do. Unfortunately, just because of what came out of that report, we all felt it wasn’t going to be possible for him to go forward. There’s nothing but sadness about that. It was very clear in the time we spent together in getting to know each other that he’s an extremely impressive person.”
The Sox declined to comment on whether Cora should get another chance at managing in the majors. That, of course, will take time, and perhaps teams won’t ever forgive Cora for being a part of one of the biggest scandals in baseball history. Cora’s ultimate fate and place in baseball isn’t up to the Red Sox.
“He walked through the front office and he knew it was important to participate actively in the New England community,” Kennedy said of Cora. “He knew it was important to win. He developed a close relationship with people here. It doesn’t excuse the conduct from the commissioner’s report, but we’ll miss him a lot.”