Red Sox

It's a triumphant return to Puerto Rico for Cora with World Series trophy

It's a triumphant return to Puerto Rico for Cora with World Series trophy

CAGUAS, Puerto Rico - Red Sox manager Alex Cora arrived in his native Puerto Rico on Saturday as fans gathered under the rain to celebrate the first man from the island to lead a team to a World Series championship.

Cora was accompanied by pitchers David Price and Eduardo Rodriguez and catcher Christian Vazquez, among others including Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, six days after beating the Los Angeles Dodgers four games to one for their fourth championship since 2004.

The group joined a caravan headed to Cora's hometown of Caguas where fans dressed in red and blue clutched umbrellas as they talked about his arrival.

''He put us on the map,'' said 26-year-old Miguel Martinez, who was slow dancing to salsa with his girlfriend as they waited for Cora. ''My eyes filled with tears when he won the championship because this is something historic.''

Some fans had driven more than an hour to receive the manager and praised how he helped Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hit more than a year ago amid a 12-year recession.

When Cora, 43, negotiated his contract last October, he asked his team to help with relief efforts, and they eagerly pitched in.

''Despite everything that has happened, we have a bit of happiness on the side,'' said Red Sox fan Arleen Cruz, who drove to Caguas with her husband from the southern town of Humacao to receive the players.

The two have been Red Sox fans since 1972.

''Puerto Rico's name couldn't be held up higher,'' said Cruz's husband, Ramon Reyes, who was clad in a Red Sox hat, T-shirt and towel slung over his shoulder.

They mingled with other fans stopping to buy food, beer and merchandise from roadside vendors as the smell of fried empanadillas and other local specialties wafted through the air.

Ronald Lopez-Cepero and his wife, both from Caguas, had already bought T-shirts last week that read ''PROUD for Puerto Rico.'' He recalled how he had about a dozen baseball cards featuring Cora and his older brother, Joey, a former big-league infielder.

''He's a tremendous person,'' said the lifelong fan. ''He's very humble and helpful.''

Cora, who spent 14 years as a major-league player, including a utility role with the 2007 champion Red Sox, steered Boston to a team-record 108 wins in the regular season before Boston topped the 100-win Yankees and Astros in the playoffs.

The Red Sox say they haven't decided whether they will visit the White House if invited by President Donald Trump.

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How Mookie Betts impressed new Dodgers teammates with team meeting speech

How Mookie Betts impressed new Dodgers teammates with team meeting speech

The Boston Red Sox lost an MVP-caliber talent in outfielder Mookie Betts.

But they also lost a strong leader in the clubhouse.

Just ask the Los Angeles Dodgers, whom Betts addressed for the first time in a recent team meeting after his trade from Boston earlier this month.

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According to Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, Betts' speech to the clubhouse was reminiscent of Kirk Gibson, who chewed out his Los Angeles teammates and demanded a new level of excellence when he joined the team as a free agent in 1988.

Except Betts delivered his message without putting anyone on blast.

"When you stand up in front of the team on the first day and essentially call everyone out, says he wants to hold everyone accountable for their effort -- not just in the game, but in the workouts -- that’s like, all right, you learn what he’s about really fast,” said Turner said Sunday of Betts, via MLB.com's Ken Gurkick

"Same principle [as Gibson’s speech], just not critical of us. This was him saying this before he knew anybody. Just signs of leadership, it jumps out at you."

Betts' passion surprised Turner, who took the 27-year-old outfielder for the quiet type.

"Just kind of assumed he was a quiet guy who goes about his business," Turner said. "Then Day One, you realize you were way off. He was proactive, let’s get in front of this -- Day One is as urgent as Game 7 of the World Series. It was awesome, actually."

Dodgers utility man Enrique Hernandez used the same adjective after hearing Betts' speech.

"It was awesome," Hernandez told Gurkick. "It was, 'this is how I play the game,' and I respected the heck out of him for that."

Betts had made strides as a leader in Boston since David Ortiz retired in 2016, setting an example with his play but also holding his teammates accountable. The Dodgers will need that accountability this season as they attempt to live up to massive expectations as clear World Series favorites.

As for Betts' work on the field, he went 0-for-2 with a sacrifice fly Sunday in his Dodgers spring training debut.

 

Red Sox claim RHP Phillips Valdez off waivers, place Dustin Pedroia on 60-day IL

Red Sox claim RHP Phillips Valdez off waivers, place Dustin Pedroia on 60-day IL

The Boston Red Sox have made yet another move to bolster their pitching depth.

On Sunday, they claimed right-hander Phillips Valdez off waivers from the Seattle Mariners. To make room for Valdez, they placed veteran second baseman Dustin Pedroia on the 60-day injured list.


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Valdez, 27, only has 11 games worth of major league experience under his belt. In 2019, he posted a 3.94 ERA and 1.62 WHIP in 16 innings pitched with the Texas Rangers. Valdez was claimed off waivers by the Mariners in November, then designated for assignment on Saturday.

Pedroia suffered a "significant setback" during his knee rehab, so his placement on the 60-day IL doesn't come as a surprise. The 36-year-old did not report to spring training with the Red Sox.

Along with Valdez, Boston has added Chris Mazza, Martin Perez, Trevor Hildenberger, to its pitching staff this offseason.