Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora has no issue bashing the New York Yankees. But he's apparently such a big fan of their young third baseman that he's willing to put a bitter rivalry aside.
In a column Thursday, the New York Post's Joel Sherman revealed an interesting exchange that occured before Game 4 of the American League Division Series. The Red Sox demolished the Yankees 16-1 in Game 3 to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series, and Andujar had just learned he wouldn't be starting in Game 4.
"Alex Cora detected sadness in Miguel Andujar’s body language," Sherman wrote. "... Though his team was just about to have the opportunity to clinch a series against its most heated foe, Boston’s manager decided to give a pep talk to New York’s third baseman."
Cora then did just that, pulling Andujar aside during New York's pregame batting practice.
"I told him, 'You’re a good player,' " Cora told Sherman. "He smiled. I said, 'I am not joking. You are a good player.' "
A manager crossing enemy lines (in the postseason, no less) to pick up one of his rivals' best young players? That's some serious respect.
The Yankees reportedly are open to trading Andujar this offseason, so it's fair to wonder whether Cora is pumping the 23-year-old's tires as an indirect way to convince New York not to pursue free agent infielder Manny Machado.
But according to Sherman, Cora told him this anecdote during the ALCS. Which means he just really likes the young third baseman.
"You have to believe in talent," Cora added to Sherman at the time. "(Andujar) has a way of slowing down the game. He was their guy in a lot of games.
"I think he should be the Rookie of the Year. (Andujar finished second.) He was the guy when (Aaron) Judge and Gleyber (Torres) were down. He really slowed the game down.”
The Red Sox have their own talented young third baseman in Rafael Devers, and Cora certainly isn't advocating for Boston to ditch Devers and pursue Andujar. But he appreciates young talent -- even when that talent is on a bitter rival.
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