Red Sox

Brad Ausmus interviews with Red Sox, but Alex Cora appears frontrunner

Brad Ausmus interviews with Red Sox, but Alex Cora appears frontrunner

BOSTON — Brad Ausmus was the second person to interview to replace John Farrell as Red Sox manager, baseball sources confirmed Monday afternoon. The Sox are expected to interview Ron Gardenhire, the Diamondbacks' bench coach, as well.

But the net might not be cast too wide. More and more, it sounds like the Sox already know who they want.

Astros bench coach Alex Cora, who met with Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski in New York on Sunday, appears the frontrunner to take the reins next year. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal has reported that to be the case multiple times, and for some inside the Sox organization, that's a growing feeling as well.

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The criteria the Sox value most isn't hard to guess: a strong connection with players, an ability to incorporate data and analytics; and someone who can handle the market.

"I knew Alex for a couple of years before getting a chance to work with him and had tried to recruit him to work a few years ago and he had other options," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Monday in New York, before Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees. "To watch him develop relationships with the players, he's all about baseball. He's all about the competition and small advantages within the game, one of the brightest baseball intellects that I've been around. And to see him pass some of that on and transition from player to TV personality to coach, he's had a ton of impact.

"He challenges people. He challenges me. He's someone who's all about winning. And I think to watch our players respond to him, he's got a lot of respect in that clubhouse because of the work he puts in and the attention to detail that he brings. That's why he's the hottest managerial candidate on the planet and deservedly so."

Cora joined the Astros before this season.

Ausmus, whom Dombrowski hired in Detroit ahead of the 2014 season, grew up in Connecticut and went to Dartmouth. The 48-year-old spent 18 seasons as a big-league catcher, the last in 2010. He was working for the Padres before Dombrowski gave him his first shot at managing the Tigers. 

Ausmus went 314-332 in four years managing the Tigers, a more veteran team than might have been ideal for him as a first-time manager.

Ausmus pulled out of the running to interview with the Mets, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag while Cora was expected to interview with the Mets on Monday or Tuesday, per the New York Post's Mike Puma.

What could change from here? One baseball source indicated a second interview with Cora was expected. Asked if he plans a second round of interviews generally, Dombrowski did not say.

"We have started the interview process," Dombrowski wrote via email. "I do not have any specific time frames at this point. Will wait and evaluate as we go through the process."

The Boston Herald's Chad Jennings first reported Ausmus' interview.

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Mookie Betts 'dominating the game' despite down numbers, Alex Cora says

Mookie Betts 'dominating the game' despite down numbers, Alex Cora says

Sometimes, the numbers don't tell the whole story.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora argues that's been the case with Mookie Betts, who has had a down year by his lofty standards. Betts has a slash line of .266/.386/.469 with 13 home runs and 36 RBI at the season's midpoint, and while those certainly aren't bad numbers by any means, the 2018 American League MVP expects more from himself.

During his appearance Tuesday on WEEI's Ordway, Merloni & Fauria, Cora explained why Betts has been more valuable this season than the numbers suggest. He cites the Red Sox outfielder's performance in Saturday's loss to the Blue Jays, when he was hitless but reached base three times and tallied a stolen base.

“I think with Mookie — and we talk about it all the time, we talked about it last year, a reminder [that] it really doesn’t matter how you’re doing numbers-wise, you’re still dominating the game,” Cora said. “The other day he was a little bit down on that game, he was 0-for-2, and he walked three times and we lost the game on Saturday and he feels like he wasn’t contributing, and the next day I said, ‘Dude, hold on, come here. You got on base three times, you scored from second, you can steal bases, there’s ways you can dominate the game.’

“And not everybody can do that,” Cora added. “If you don’t hit, you’re not contributing — with Mookie, he gets on, he can run, he can play defense, so I try to remind him, dude, it doesn’t matter, you show up, you’re impacting the game.”

Betts has 59 walks on the season, which is on pace to shatter his career high of 81 set last year. He also has nine stolen bases while playing Gold Glove defense. So technically, Cora is correct in stating Betts' presence is felt regardless of what the box score says.

But the fact remains, the Red Sox need their MVP to start hitting like an MVP. As Boston currently sits in third place in the American League East, it could be the difference between a playoff berth and a trip to the golf course come October.

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Red Sox-Yankees at London Stadium will feature a unique field setup

Red Sox-Yankees at London Stadium will feature a unique field setup

We've seen (American) football games on baseball fields. But how can you transform a massive soccer stadium into a venue for an MLB game?

We're finding out, as the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees will face off at London Stadium this weekend in MLB's first-ever games in Europe.

That means stadium crews have had to lay down dirt and artificial turf to change the home of West Ham United into a baseball field. And apparently it's coming together quite nicely.

Here's a look at a few photos from inside the stadium:

MLB senior field coordinator and consultant Murray Cook, who led the London Stadium project, likened the transformed field to a "ballpark-in-a-box" that essentially plops an entire ballpark in the middle of an oval pitch.

"Under the armor deck is the track-and-field venue and this multimillion-dollar soccer pitch; we can't anchor or dig any holes," Cook told ESPN.com's Marly Rivera. "So everything has to be balanced or weighted to support all the fencing structure and foul poles."

The on-field dimensions are pretty standard (if slightly small): 385 feet to center field and 330 feet down each line. But the one unique aspect will be the massive amount of foul territory on either side that Cook compared to the Oakland Coliseum. There's also a 16-foot wall in center field that Cook calls a "mini Green Monster." (The Red Sox are the home team, after all.)

There's still work to be done ahead of the first game Friday, but this "ballpark-in-a-box" seems almost ready to host the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry on foreign soil.

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