Christian Vazquez

Eduardo Rodriguez, Red Sox players react to Alex Cora's sudden departure

Eduardo Rodriguez, Red Sox players react to Alex Cora's sudden departure

The Boston Red Sox' front office didn't offer many straightforward answers about their decision to part ways with Alex Cora.

But how do their players feel about losing their manager after just two seasons?

While most have been quiet since the Red Sox split with Cora on Tuesday, pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez and catcher Christian Vazquez used Instagram to share their thoughts.

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Here's Rodriguez, who referred to Cora as a "brother" and a "friend" in an Instagram post Wednesday:

And here's Vazquez, who thanked Cora for aiding relief efforts in their native Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria:

Infielder Michael Chavis also became the first Red Sox player to address Cora's dismissal on the record at a Portland Sea Dogs event Wednesday night.

"I had a small time with Alex, but in that small period that we had together, I can't say enough about his character," Chavis said. "He's a very good dude. He did a lot to help me as a player, especially at second base.

"He was a phenomenal second baseman and shortstop, so he somewhat took me under his wing and went out of his way to make sure I was comfortable, so I'm very thankful for that."

There's an obvious theme here: Cora was very well-liked by his players. Cheating scandals aside -- MLB is still investigating Cora's role in Boston's 2018 sign-stealing operation -- the 44-year-old galvanized Boston's clubhouse after John Farrell's departure to help the team win a record 108 games in 2018.

Cora also put the Red Sox in a very difficult spot by leaving them without a manager less than a month before pitchers and catchers report to spring training. But you likely won't hear players say any negative words about their former manager.

There's no defense for Red Sox fielding last season, and Alex Cora knows it

There's no defense for Red Sox fielding last season, and Alex Cora knows it

SAN DIEGO — In all of the ways the Red Sox collectively regressed last season, not enough attention is paid to the defense.

A year after ranking fifth in the American League in defensive efficiency and featuring three Gold Glovers and two other finalists, the Red Sox sank to 11th in an across-the-board slump.

"Inconsistent. Yeah, we were inconsistent not only in the infield, but I think in the outfield," said manager Alex Cora. "We saw that early in the season. For how great they are, I do believe that there's more there, and we'll address it. We'll address it. I think Benny (Andrew Benintendi) can become a complete player. I know he's been in the final vote of the Gold Glove the last two years, but I think he can make some strides.

"I think early in the season we were a step slower than the other teams, and we paid the price because of that, as far as like communication and the way we were moving in the outfield. We can do better."

How can they improve? Cora basically went around the diamond. He believes third baseman Rafael Devers will benefit from more experience, as well as conversations with five-time Gold Glover Adrian Beltre.

Shortstop Xander Bogaerts ranked dead last among regular shortstops in defensive runs saved last year (minus-21), a function of decreased range. A revolving door at second base didn't help in the double play department, either, where the Red Sox ranked last in the American League.

"I think the next step for Xander is to become a better defensive player," Cora said. "For how sure-handed he is, I think his first step can be better. He's that good of an athlete, so that's the next challenge. If we do that, we'll be better. Turning the double play, we have to do that. It's funny because I mentioned that in Orlando a few years ago. Double plays are game changers. You don't turn over the play, you pay the price. You turn over the play, you go and hit and score runs. So we have to do better than that."

Cora also noted that Gold Glove finalist catcher Christian Vazquez experienced his own struggles, particularly when it came to passed balls.

"Defensively behind the plate, for how great he was, blocking wasn't great for Christian. He's working on that. There's a few things that I have learned over the last two months that we didn't do right, and we can do better. If we do that, we're going to have a good season."

Cora suggested that defense is a renewed emphasis under new boss Chaim Bloom.

"One thing we're going to talk about with Chaim coming from an organization that's very aggressive as far as defense, is why they do it, how they do it, and if that aggressiveness is going to — he can help us out," Cora said. "And that's something that I'm looking forward to sitting with Chaim and see where it takes us. If that aggressiveness can help Xander and Raffy defensively, so be it. So we'll talk about it."

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Four Boston Red Sox players named 2019 Gold Glove award finalists

Four Boston Red Sox players named 2019 Gold Glove award finalists

MLB announced its 2019 Gold Glove award finalists on Thursday, and four Boston Red Sox players made the cut.

Catcher Christian Vazquez, left fielder Andrew Benintendi, center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., and right fielder Mookie Betts were each recognized for their defensive prowess in the 2019 campaign.

This is Vazquez's first Gold Glove nomination since entering the league in 2014. While making an impact behind the plate, the 29-year-old enjoyed the best offensive season of his career hitting .276 with 23 home runs and 72 RBI. Joining Vazquez as finalists in the American League are Indians catcher Roberto Perez and Blue Jays backstop Danny Jansen.

Benintendi was nominated for a Gold Glove award last year, but it was Royals left fielder Alex Gordon who took home the hardware for the fifth time in his career. Gordon will compete with Benintendi again this year, along with the Athletics' Robbie Grossman.

Bradley is a perrenial Gold Glove candidate, so this one doesn't come as much of a surprise. The 2018 Gold Glove award winner certainly has some competition this year, though, in Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier and Angels superstar Mike Trout.

Betts, like Bradley, earned a Gold Glove in 2018. If he does so again this year, it'll be his fourth straight. The '18 AL MVP will go up against Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun and the Astros' Josh Reddick.

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