Alex Cora

Alex Cora loves Miguel Andujar, gave young Yankee pep talk during ALDS

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USA TODAY Sports

Alex Cora loves Miguel Andujar, gave young Yankee pep talk during ALDS

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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Alex Cora to check in on Rafael Devers' offseason program

Alex Cora to check in on Rafael Devers' offseason program

Red Sox manager Alex Cora said he'll visit with Rafael Devers in Puerto Rico on Thursday as he checks in on third baseman's new offseason training regimen.

At the winter meetings in Las Vegas, Cora said Devers, 22, has hired a trainer and a nutritionist as he spends the winter in his native Dominican Republic. The Red Sox want him to be in shape before spring training so he arrives fit in Fort Myers in February.

"One thing we want - he does an outstanding job in spring training of getting himself in shape. We don't want him to do that," Cora said. "We want him to come in shape and just have a regular spring training, and hopefully that's the case this year."

Devers, listed at 237 pounds, spent three stints on the disabled list with hamstring and shoulder injuries in his sophomore season in the majors. He seemed to fall out of favor with Cora late in the regular season when Eduardo Nunez got the bulk of the starts at third. 

Devers hit .240 with 21 homers and 66 RBI. He had a strong ALCS against the Astros, hitting .385 with a three-run homer in the pennant-clinching 4-1 victory in Game 5.

"He's into it right away," Cora said of Devers commitment to staying in shape. "He's only 22. He's learning. Eating habits. Working out, all that stuff."

Cora said at times the game sped up on Devers last season but he was encouraged by his October performance.

"We've been in contact with him constantly, and I do feel that those at-bats in October, that can translate over 162 games," Cora sais. "He was able to slow down. Whatever he found with his rehab assignment [at Triple-A Pawtucket while on the DL in August], he kept it moving forward for him."

After predicting .280, 30 homers and 100 RBI for Devers before last season, Cora said, "this year, I'll say he's going to be a good hitter, and we go from here."
 
As for the shape his young third baseman is in as he prepares for a third season in the majors, Cora said, "Looking forward to seeing on Thursday to see if it's real. I'll feed him rice and beans in Puerto Rico."

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Dave Roberts details "beef" with ex-teammate Alex Cora in talk with the Camera Guys

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AP Photo

Dave Roberts details "beef" with ex-teammate Alex Cora in talk with the Camera Guys

We've already seen a famous East Coast vs. West Coast rivalry in the world of hip-hop music. But do we have one in baseball between two former teammates?

Long before they dueled in the 2018 World Series, Alex Cora and Dave Roberts were teammates on the 2004 Dodgers. But apparently Cora has taken playful jabs at Roberts, suggesting he's cashing in on his famous steal in the 2004 ALCS.

And if that wasn't enough, then Cora's Red Sox had the nerve to beat Roberts' Dodgers in five games to win this year's Fall Classic.

NBC Sports Boston's Camera Guys caught up with Roberts at MLB's Winter Meetings in Las Vegas to find out where the "beef" goes from here.

No teams have met up in back-to-back World Series since the Dodgers and Yankees in 1977-78, but Sox fans would surely sign up for a return ticket to face L.A. in 2019.

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