Red Sox

Pedroia 'frustrated' with Sox' performance

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Pedroia 'frustrated' with Sox' performance

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- A year ago, with the Red Sox reeling from another poor start, Dustin Pedroia took it upon himself to draw the line.

Following a humiliating four-game sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays last April, Pedroia called his teammates out on Patriots' Day and famously noted the Sox, at the time, were incapable of beating Brookline High.

On Sunday, after the Red Sox had dropped to 0-3 following a humbling 5-1 loss to Texas, Pedroia again was the most vocal player in the Boston clubhouse.

While others noted that three losses shouldn't be seen as catastrophic and Adrian Gonzalez virtually guaranteed that the Sox would find their way out of their early-season slump and be in contention in September, Pedroia was not as sanguine.

"I think we're all frustrated,'' said Pedroia. "We got outplayed. It's not for lack of talent on our team. We got outpitched, we got outhit. They kicked our butts. That's it. We better show up Tuesday in Cleveland and play better than we've been playing.''

And with that, Pedroia sounded the alarm. He wasn't suggesting that the Red Sox panic -- the worst response a team can have under the circumstances -- and he wasn't suggesting that the Red Sox were lacking effort or focus, as he did last April.

But he was saying that what happened at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington this weekend, where the Sox were outclassed by a cumulative score of 26-11, was, in a word, unacceptable.

Pedroia was careful to point out that the Rangers deserve some credit. He noted that Texas was the defending American League champs and their display of muscle -- 11 homers in three games -- was hardly a shock to anyone.

But he wasn't dismissing the results as unimportant or suggesting that the Red Sox don't have improve their play -- and fast.

"We want to play well,'' he said. "We're not excited about how we played the first three games . . . They came out and put it on us. We're going to have to play a lot better than that to accomplish what we all think we can do.''

As good a player as Pedroia is, this refusal to accept anything less than the best may be his most important attribute.

Baseball is the wrong sport in which to overreact. The season is long and highs and lows are part of the 162-game landscape. Woe is the team which fails to keep an even emotional keel from April through the end of September.

But it never hurts to have a player of Pedroia's caliber speak out when the results aren't what was expected. And after adding two premier players in the offseason to an already talented roster, coming out of gate 0-3 was far from what was expected of the 2011 Red Sox.

He dismissed a question about whether the Sox had suffered through a similar three-game stretch in 20010 as irrelevant.

"We've got a different team,'' said Pedroia flatly. "This isn't last year, so we're turning the page on last year. But I'll tell you what, man - this is a pretty bad three-game stretch right now. So we're going to have to get our stuff together and come out and play well.''

Cleveland would seem to be the right place to start. The Indians are, to be frank, horrendous. On Friday, they were the only pitching staff performing worse than the Red Sox themselves, allowing the White Sox a 14-0 head start before scoring their first runs of 2011.

But it won't be handed to the Red Sox. They'll need to stop leaving fastballs over the middle of the plate, practically inviting the batting practice that the Rangers took. And while they're at it, they'll need to put together better at-bats, with an emphasis on approach and not on overly aggressive free swinging.

Gonzalez and others are right, of course: a three-game sweep has not eliminated the Red Sox from contention. The 1998 New York Yankees, to cite one example, began 0-3 and went on to win 114 games.

Still, a turnaround series in Cleveland prior to coming home for a 10-game homestand against three division rivals would go a long way in pointing the Red Sox in the right direction.

"We're not very happy with the series,'' said Terry Francona. "That's an understatement. But I think there's a difference between being aggravated at a series as opposed to sitting around and panicking.

"We didn't play a very good series. We got outplayed all the way around. Now we've got to go regroup and try to get us a win so we feel better about ourselves.''

Beginning Tuesday, if they know what's good for them.

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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