Red Sox

Report: Alex Cora could be suspended at least one season for sign-stealing

Report: Alex Cora could be suspended at least one season for sign-stealing

Major League Baseball just dropped the hammer on the Houston Astros, and Alex Cora is expected to be next.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch both have been suspended one year for their role in Houston's illegal sign-stealing operation in 2017, The Athletic's Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal reported Monday.

MLB's shockingly harsh punishment also requires the Astros to forfeit their first- and second-round picks in both 2020 and 2021 and pay a $5 million fine, the maximum allowed under MLB's constitution, per The Athletic.

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Cora was Houston's bench coach during the Astros' championship 2017 campaign before taking the Boston Red Sox' manager job in 2018. The 2018 Red Sox also are under MLB investigation for their own sign-stealing operation, and his discipline won't be determined until after that investigation is complete, The Athletic reported.

According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, though, Cora could face even more severe repercussions.

That makes sense, considering Cora was Hinch's right-hand man in Houston who apparently played a central role in its sign-stealing operation -- and oversaw a similar operation with Boston in 2018.

The Red Sox said they'll cooperate with MLB's investigation, and it's unclear when the league will hand out its punishment to Boston.

UPDATE (2:45 p.m. ET): MLB is beginning its investigation into the Red Sox on Monday, according to USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale, and Cora is expected to be suspended at least one year.

Jackie Bradley Jr. says race relations have to 'start with change of heart'

Jackie Bradley Jr. says race relations have to 'start with change of heart'

Jackie Bradley Jr. has watched the George Floyd protests touch every corner of America, and he can't help but feel emotional.

With the Black Lives Matter movement forcing a long overdue racial reckoning, Bradley hopes the result is permanent change of a very personal nature.

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"It has to start with a change of the heart," Bradley said in a Zoom call with reporters on Monday. "That's what it all comes back to. You've got to have the heart to be able to physically, emotionally, and mentally make that change to be better. Not only for yourself, but for others around. We've come a long way as a nation, but we still have some ways to go. I'm praying that we can get to the place that we need to be."

Bradley has spoken to manager Ron Roenicke and teammates about his experiences. He also took to heart the words of former All-Star outfielder Torii Hunter, who recently told an interviewer that he heard more racist language directed at him in Fenway Park than anywhere else, which is why Hunter had a no-trade clause to Boston.

Bradley declined to discuss his specific experiences, saying those conversations are for another time, but he did empathize with Hunter.

"I definitely heard what Torii talked about," Bradley said. "I've talked with Torii since I was a rookie. He's an amazing mentor, someone that you can go to and just discuss anything, whether it's just life, baseball, family. There's a lot of guys that I've spoken with along the way. For them to give me knowledge to use and help my career is something that I'm very appreciative for.

"I think everybody has different experiences, and I'm not here to compare my experience to his. I'm sure we've all had different experiences in certain situations, certain places. But I just hope we get better and make a change."

And Bradley knows that changes need to happen. It can't be through laws or rules, but core beliefs.

"It all boils down to people just have to want that change," he said. "You can't force it on anybody. We have to show a lot more love in this country."

How Mitch Moreland stayed in baseball shape with the help of his 'party barn'

How Mitch Moreland stayed in baseball shape with the help of his 'party barn'

Mitch Moreland found one way to stay in baseball shape during the pandemic — install batting cages in his party barn.

Moreland bought land in Alabama this offseason, razed a couple of existing structures, and prepared to build a new home. So his family would have a spot to watch construction, they first built a fully furnished barn, which they assumed they could use to host friends and which Moreland described as a "party barn."

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But when the pandemic struck, he found a practical use for the space, installing a full batting cage and pitching machine.

"It just happened to come at just the right time," Moreland said. "Obviously, it's an unfortunate time with everybody having to go back home and kind of stay isolated as much as possible, but having the barn there, being able to get the cage up in it, like I said, it just came about at the right time really."

Moreland's Instagram account includes multiple shots of the barn-as-batting-cage, including one of his son losing a tooth by tying a string to baseball and letting it fly.

"It worked out great," Moreland said. "It was a blast being able to kind of be there and watch the finishing touches. Me and a couple of the guys put the cage up ourselves in like three hours, so I was fired up about it. Something I've always wanted. I think my boys are getting just as much use out of it as I am. It's fun to have and it just kind of worked out well during this time to have it."

The 34-year-old Moreland returned to the Red Sox on a one-year, $3 million deal with a team option for 2021. After spending the first seven years of his career in Texas, he has now made a home in Boston, where he is entering his fourth season.

But it's the new home he's building, with personal batting cage/party barn, that caught the attention of his teammates.

"Actually guys have talked about it here," he said. "They've already brought it up and they said they're all coming to stay with me. I was like, I'll wait until all this stuff is cleared up and then you all can come up anytime you want."