KANSAS CITY Bobby Valentine offered some updates on the health of a number of injured Red Sox players.
Kevin Youkilis (lower back): "He's doing much better today."
Reading from a staff medical report, Valentine noted: "Possible initiation of baseball activity upon team returning on Thursday."
Carl Crawford (elbow): "He's feeling real close to swinging. He's almost ready to start swinging again."
Crawford was due to be examined by doctors this week, but has been out of town for the past few days, according to Valentine.
"Carl's going to meet us Thursday in Boston," said Valentine. "The checkup probably hasn't happened, is my guess."
BOSTON — We’re just waiting on an announcement now.
A pair of national reports on Saturday afternoon, one from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal...
...And another from MLB Network and FanRagSports.com's Jon Heyman...
have firmed up Alex Cora’s expected hiring as Red Sox manager. Both reported that Cora, the Astros bench coach, is expected to take the job once Houston's season ends, which could come as soon as Saturday night after Game 7 of the American League Championship Series.
Heyman reported a contract offer has already been made to Cora.
A baseball source said this week that there was “not a doubt” Cora, the Astros bench coach, would wind up with the Red Sox gig. It’s unclear when exactly the offer was made to him, but one had not been made as of midday Wednesday, the source said.
Cora, 41, a former Red Sox infielder (2005-08) who's also worked in the media and is the most sought-after managerial candidate at the moment, appeared the front-runner since the outset of what proved a small search for the Red Sox.
Earlier, Boston Globe reported that the Washington Nationals were interested in Cora after they fired Dusty Baker on Friday.
The Washington Nationals will ask to speak to Houston Astros bench coach Alex Cora after the ALCS, Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe reported, which could throw a wrench into the Red Sox' plans to name Cora their manager.
The Sox appeared close to naming Cora to replace John Farrell after the Astros season is finished, NBC Sports Boston Red Sox Insider Evan Drellich reported earlier this week. Then the Nats decided to part ways with manager Dusty Baker after consecutive N.L. East titles but Division Series flameouts.
Cora, 41, as Cafardo points out, was once offered a player development job with the Nats, who were the last team he played for (2011) in his 14-plus years as a major league infielder, including 2005-08 with the Red Sox.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo obviously has a fondness for Cora, telling MLB.com in 2011:
"I think it comes natural to him to be a teacher. Alex still has a lot left in his tank as a player. But he has my number, and when he’s done playing, he can make a call. It will be well-received."
After interviewing Cora, ex-Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and Ron Gardenhire, who took the Tigers job this week, Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told WEEI.com that he was still "undecided" if he'll interview anyone else.