Red Sox

Notes: Ortiz claims DH RBI record

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Notes: Ortiz claims DH RBI record

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Not all the news was bad for the Red Sox Saturday night.

David Ortiz blasted his second homer in as many games with a two-run shot in the second, and in his next at-bat, drove in another run with a groundout to the right side.

The three RBI gave Ortiz 1,004 in his career as a DH, topping the previous record held by Edgar Martinez at 1,003.

"When they mention your name with guys the caliber of Edgar Martinez,'' said Ortiz, "it makes you feel good. I don't think about it now when I'm playing. One day, I'll sit down and look at the numbers; right now, the focus is trying to win a game.''

Jessica Camerato's interview with David Ortiz

Last season, Ortiz didn't hit his second homer until April 30. The year before, it was June before he hit No. 1.

"That's good because I think it will help him relax,'' said Terry Francona. "I know how much he was pointing toward April. Let him him get his legs under him and hopefully he'll whack a few more.''

"You play the game and things happen,'' said Ortiz. "It's not like I tried to start the season slow the last two years. I think I got all the attention because of the player I've been as long as I've been here, and people expect me to do well. There's nothing wrong with that. It's just sometimes, things don't work out the way you expect and you have to keep fighting.''

Adrian Gonzalez continued his torrid start with three more hits -- two singles and a double -- giving him five in his first two games as a member of the Red Sox.

Carl Crawford wasn't so fortunate. After going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his debut Friday, Crawford was 0-for-3, though he finally reached base with a walk in his final plate appearance.

"Once he gets on base a few times and creates some havoc, he'll be OK,'' predicted Francona. "He's trying too hard.''

Francona said he would stay with Jarrod Saltalamacchia behind the plate Sunday in the series finale. There had been some thought that he would go with Jason Varitek -- the lone position player not to get into a game yet -- in a day game after a night game, but Francona stuck with Saltalamacchia.

"I want to get him going here a little bit,'' said Francona.

The manager believes in getting players into games quickly, so they can get acclimated and feel part of the roster early.

His decision is complicated by the fact that the Sox have an off-day Monday in Cleveland and bad weather if forecast for the three-game series with the Indians, which begins Tuesday.

"We'll see - I've got a lot of 'eitherors,' '' Francona said. "It goes both ways. You want regulars to get into a rhythm and bench guys to get at-bats.''

A club source confirmed that the Sox have released Jason Place, the team's first-round pick in 2006. Place was one of the few early-round draft busts in the Theo Epstein era.

Place, 22, selected 27th overall in 2006, had a hitch in his swing that he never could correct. Last season he played in just 38 games because of injuries and hit .134. with 4 homers and 14 RBI.

In five minor-league seasons, Place hit .234 and had a history of not getting along with teammates.

His release was first reported by MLBTradeRumors.com

Clay Buchholz pitched an inning less than his fellow starters in his final Florida tuneup, but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll be limited when he makes his first start of the season Sunday in the series finale.

"He had one inning less than everybody else,'' noted Francona. "But he might end up throwing a complete game.''

Francona said the Sox will be monitoring "effort'' -- how hard he has to work -- rather than innings or actual pitch count.

Counting Friday's opener, lefty specialist Dennys Reyes had walked the leadoff hitter in three consecutive outings, cause for at least some concern.

Reyes came into Friday's game with one out in the seventh to face lefty-hitting Josh Hamilton and immediately walked him.

"It's better than the ball leaving the ballpark,'' said Francona. "Then again, there will be times when he pitches longer than that because I think he needs to. It's hard to ask guys to throw strikes if you're facing one hitter.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

As Red Sox manager, Cora must keep conviction, honesty that got him job

As Red Sox manager, Cora must keep conviction, honesty that got him job

BOSTON -- Just as a batter can subconsciously play to avoid losing, rather than to win, a manager can operate with a fear of failure. Such an unwitting approach may have contributed John Farrell’s downfall, and is an area where Alex Cora can set himself apart.

A lot has been written about the value of authenticity in leadership. It’s one thing to have the charisma and conviction needed to land a position of power. It’s another to take over a pressure-cooker job, like manager of the Red Sox, and carry the fortitude to stay true to yourself, continue to let those qualities shine.

Cora did not appear to pull any punches in his days with ESPN. The 42-year-old engaged in Twitter debates with media members and fans. And throughout his baseball life, he showed his colors.

Via Newsday’s Dave Lennon, here’s a scene from 2010 when Cora was with the Mets: 

Last year, Cora spoke out against the league office's rule requiring minorities always be interviewed.

Perhaps most interesting of all, when Chris Sale cut up White Sox jerseys, Cora was Dennis Eckersley-like in his assessment:

“What he did is not acceptable,” Cora said of Sale. “If I’m a veteran guy, I’m going to take exception. if I’m a young guy, I’m going to take exception. Because as a young guy on a team that is actually struggling right now, somebody has to show me the ropes of how to act as a big leaguer. And this is not the way you act as a big leaguer. Forget the trades, forget who you are.

“What you do in that clubhouse, you got to act like a professional. And that’s one thing my agent, Scott Boras, used to tell me when I got to the big leagues: act like a professional. Chris Sale didn’t do it. He’s not showing the veterans that you respect the game. He’s not showing the rookies how to be a big leaguer, and that’s what I take exception to.”

Take out Chris Sale’s name from the above quotation and insert David Price’s. Describes Price's incident with Eckersley perfectly, doesn't it? 

Now, no manager can say what they’re really thinking all the time. Cora’s not in the media anymore. His new job description is different. 

But when you consider the great success of Terry Francona -- and why he succeeded in this market beyond simply winning -- what stands out is how comfortable Francona appears in his own skin. How genuine he seems. 

There is a way to acknowledge, as a manager, when something is off. A way to do so gently but genuinely. A way to say what you feel -- and a way to say what you feel must be said -- while operating without fear of the players you manage. 

Ultimately, most every comment Francona makes is intended to shield his players. But Francona shows his personality as he goes (or if you want to be a bit cynical, he sells his personality marvelously). Those little self-deprecating jokes -- he charms the hell out of everyone. The media, the fans. The Cult of Tito has a real following, because he feels real. Because he is real. 

Farrell was not fake. But he did have a hard time letting his personality come across consistently, to his detriment. He was reserved, in part because that just appeared to be his nature. But the job must have, with time, forced him to withdraw even further. As everything Farrell said (and did) was picked apart in the market, it likely became easiest just to play it safe in every facet -- speaking to the media, speaking to players.

The Sox’ biggest undertaking in 2017 seemed to be a nothing-to-see-here campaign. It was all fine. No David Ortiz, no home runs, no problem. Manny Machado was loved. The media was the problem, not any attitude or attitudes inside the clubhouse. Base running was a net positive -- you name it, none of it was ever tabbed as a problem publicly by the manager, or anyone else.

A perpetually defensive stance was the public image. Issues were never addressed or poorly defused, so questions always lingered.

Maybe Cora cannot admonish Sale as he did a year ago now that he’s managing Sale. Not publicly, anyway. But even as a quote-unquote player's manager, the job still requires authority, which should be doled out just as it was earned: through authentic comments and actions.

"My job as the manager is to set the culture, the expectations, the standards, the baseball," Cora’s present boss, Astros manager A.J. Hinch, said the night the Astros clinched the pennant. "It's the players' job to develop the chemistry.

“And obviously good teams always say that, we want chemistry, and what comes first, the chemistry or the winning. But when you have it, you want to hold on to it as much as possible . . . We've got a good thing going because we have one common goal, we have one common standard, and that's to be your best every day."

Cora has to remain true to his best, too -- not what he thinks, and hears, and reads, people want his best to be.

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Red Sox hire Alex Cora as their new manager

Red Sox hire Alex Cora as their new manager

BOSTON -- Alex Cora is the 47th manager in Red Sox history, charged with reinvigorating a young clubhouse and improving on consecutive 93-win seasons that fizzled in the first round of the playoffs.

The team made the hiring of the 42-year-old Astros bench coach official on Sunday, a day after Houston advanced to the World Series and two days before the start of the Fall Classic. Cora will remain with the Astros until the Series is finished and has a three-year deal, with a club option for 2021.

A 14-year big leaguer from Puerto Rico, Cora is the first Latin manager in club history. He hit .252 in 301 games for the Sox from 2005-08. He was the most sought-after managerial candidate this offseason and arrives with a great reputation based on his personality, his prior experience in Boston and his season with the Astros. 

ALEX CORA: NEW RED SOX MANAGER

He knows Sox second baseman and leader Dustin Pedroia well. The last time Cora was in the World Series prior to this year was 2007. On Saturday, exactly 10 years after the Red Sox came back from a 3-1 series deficit against the Indians in the American League Championship Series, the Astros finished off a rally after falling behind 3-2 in the series.

"You know, we've never been through this," Dustin Pedroia said after the Sox won Game 7 in 2007. "This is on the biggest stage. Everyone is watching these games. I remember the Angels series, I was nervous. Alex Cora told me, 'Hey, settle down, be yourself, have fun. This game is meant to be played, have fun. Play as hard as you can and leave it out there on the field. If we lose, we lose. Don't have any regrets.'

"Ever since then I kind of went out there, and I don't worry about anything but playing hard. I think everybody is doing that. Nobody cares about anything, just picking each other up and playing the game to win."

Early on, Cora will have to prove that his inexperience is not a stumbling block for a club in a win-now mindset. This season was Cora's only as a major-league coach. He's the first Sox manager to take the big job without prior major-league managing experience since Grady Little in 2002. 

Cora's ability to bond with players is his hallmark.

"Alex brings a lot to the table," Astros outfielder Carlos Beltran said. "He's a guy that always is looking for information that he could use against the opposite team. And he's also, he provides that information to the player, which is great. He has good communication with the guys, respects the guys. He's always in the clubhouse getting to know the players, getting to know which buttons he could push on each player to make them go out there and play the game hard, which is great.

"I think I always feel that sometimes managers, they draw a very defined line between players and manager. And sometimes they get caught up not going to the clubhouse because they don't want to feel like they're invading their space. But as a player, I love when managers come to the clubhouse, sit down, talk to us, get to know us, ask about our family, about everything. And that really, for me, means a lot. So Alex does that real well."

Cora's hiring comes five years and a day after the Red Sox hired John Farrell. The choice could have been announced prior to Sunday, but the Red Sox were being respectful of the Astros' playoff run. 

In a statement released by the Red Sox, Cora said: “I am extremely honored and humbled to be named manager of the Boston Red Sox and I want to thank Dave, John Henry, Tom Werner, and Sam Kennedy for giving me such a tremendous opportunity. Returning to the Red Sox and the city of Boston is a dream come true for me and my family and I look forward to working towards the ultimate goal of winning another championship for this city and its great fans. At the same time, I want to express my appreciation for Jim Crane, Jeff Luhnow, A.J. Hinch, and the entire Houston Astros organization for giving me the chance to start my coaching career. It has been a very special season and an incredible organization to be a part of and I am looking forward to the World Series and winning with this group.”

“We were very impressed when we interviewed Alex,” Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said in the statement. “He came to us as a highly-regarded candidate, and from speaking with him throughout this process, we found him to be very knowledgeable, driven, and deserving of this opportunity. He is a highly respected and hardworking individual who has experience playing in Boston. Alex also has a full appreciation for the use of analytical information in today's game and his ability to communicate and relate to both young players and veterans is a plus. Finally, the fact that he is bilingual is very significant for our club.”

“As someone who has played in Boston and knows what it takes to win here, Alex is uniquely positioned to instill a championship culture,” team chairman Werner added in the statement. “Baseball is in his blood and we could not be more pleased to have found someone so accomplished to lead our team. Welcome home, Alex.” 

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