For as much as we know leadership in a baseball clubhouse has to come from both a manager and the players, understanding the distribution of duties is a little more difficult, and varies from team to team. Who handles what matters? Does a manager ask some of his most trusted players to handle certain situations?
In explaining his outlook, Cora noted the Sox might have a little stricter, cleaner look when traveling this year.
“I think you give them the space," Cora said in a sit-down with NBC Sports Boston. "Obviously, we’re going to have some rules. Dress codes, and who can be in the clubhouse, all that stuff. … I will get the veterans or the core of the team in my office. Tell ‘em what I want from them, and then they meet and they’ll come back with a set of rules that they feel it’s appropriate for the team, and then we’ll discuss and we go.”
Most teams have a policy on dress when traveling. The Red Sox under John Farrell wore sport coats most of the time, but it was relaxed when it was hot during the summer. That’s par for the course. Some teams have tighter policies when leaving town compared to coming back home.
“I signed with the Dodgers in 1996, and that was an organization that from Double-A on every trip, it was a [must to wear a] sports coat on the road,” Cora said. “Have to wear a collared shirt. Slacks on the road … it was very clean. So I know it’s different now. I know that what for me is a dress shirt for another guy is not. You know we got T-shirts that cost $550, so they feel that’s appropriate. So jeans with holes, they paid $700 for those jeans. Is that appropriate? I don’t know.
“We’ll talk about it. You give them the space and the respect that they’re gonna make good decisions for the benefit of the team and they understand that there’s a manager, there’s a president of baseball operations. We have to all get together, and hopefully, the rules, they stick to it. Well, they have to stick to it. They have to. But [I want to be] flexible enough that they’re comfortable, but strong enough that I feel comfortable.”
Early on, Cora has already found a clever way to send a disciplinary message. Christian Vazquez was on his phone while Cora was speaking to the team at the outset of spring training. Vazquez, like Cora, is from Puerto Rico, and they have a pre-existing relationship.
Cora tactfully found a way to draw a line, publicly. Vazquez now has to take a few teammates out to dinner, and the matter was handled lightheartedly, but with purpose.
“That’s a message for everybody,” Cora said. "First of all, jokingly but not really like — [it’s funny that] he was the one that had the phone out, because he’s my countryman. And I look around and I’m like, the first thing I thought of was like, ‘Really? Christian?' You know, he was embarrassed which I understand and he apologized.'"
Vazquez knew in the moment he was wrong.
“Kind of like, 'My bad,'” Cora said. “He knew right away. But there’s consequences and, you know, he’s making money, so he’ll take two or three [guys] out to dinner.”