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October 16, 2018

Alex Cora

Houston, Texas - pregame 3

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Alex Cora.

Q. Can you give us an update for us on Chris?
ALEX CORA: He's on his way here. When he gets here went to the training room, and we'll see how he feels.

If you guys see him throwing during the game, don't panic. He's throwing a bullpen, if he has to throw a bullpen today. Like I said yesterday, this is more about the individual than the Red Sox. And however he feels, we go from there. If he can't throw a bullpen today, he won't throw it. We have to take care of him first.

I haven't talked to him today, so I don't know how he feels, if he feels weak or whatever. But we'll know. But like I said, I'll give you a heads-up. If he throws a bullpen, it's not like we're trying to reinvent the game and bring him in today.

Q. Will you give us an update during the game on his status?
ALEX CORA: I'll check with Kevin, yeah.

Q. Just a thought on what you expect from Nathan Eovaldi?
ALEX CORA: Another good start. He's in a good place. One thing he's done the last four or five, he's using the fastball in different spots. As far as stuff, pure stuff, there's not too many left in October with that kind of ability. This guy's throwing 99, 100 in the sixth inning.

With him it's about usage and not staying on the same plane. He's been doing that lately. I expect him just to go out there and keep doing the same thing he's been doing, give us six, and we go to the bullpen.

Q. Why do you think it's tough to do that now?
ALEX CORA: He's strong. This guy, you actually have to push him out of the weight room because he works hard. He's been doing this since with the Marlins. I heard it from Joey when he was the bench coach there, and then talking to Cal and Cashy with the Rays. This guy, he'll go after it. And he's been doing that with us.

And they did a good job with the Rays as far as with his pitch count and his innings. We slowed down with him in September so he could be ready for this. And that outing in New York, that was fun to watch.

Q. There was some social media stuff about Matt Barnes, he had some sticky stuff on his arm. What's your attitude about players using pine tar particularly in cold weather?
ALEX CORA: Seems like always those videos always come out in October. I wonder why. You have to ask the hitters. They like guys that can control their stuff. So I just leave it at that.

Q. Is it fair to say as a manager as long there's some discretion you're not going to make a case out of it, call it out?
ALEX CORA: Actually, I was watching that, on MLB Network the other day, the Dodger/Mets thing -- Jay Howell. I saw that, I was like, wow. Get thrown out of a playoff game for something like that and then I get thrown out. Interesting. No, I mean, it is what it is. Everybody knows.

Q. Can you talk about Keuchel and Alex Bregman?
ALEX CORA: About who?

Q. Keuchel and Bregman.
ALEX CORA: We've got to talk about Alex again? [Smiling].

Keuchel, he's a good pitcher. He likes to compete. One of my favorites in that clubhouse. But we have a job to do. And this is a game that it's his will against our will. He's going to pitch through the edges of the strike zone. They're going to be pitches that look like strikes but they're going to finish in the bottom of the strike zone. And we have to be very disciplined.

For how much we talk about being aggressive and being the aggressor and do damage, this is a game that as a team, as a unit, we have to be very humble and take what he gives us, stay in that right-center gap. And if we do that we expect to have a good night.

With Alex, he's one of the best players in the Big Leagues. I saw it last year and he was really good last year and now he's better. His willingness to keep working, try to get better is fun to watch -- not now, obviously. But I'm very proud of him. I'm very proud of him and he's going to have a great career.

Q. The Astros obviously play with a lot of swagger, some crazy home run celebrations during the year. Yesterday the thing with Bregman. You guys, I would say, a little more button-downed. Having been around both teams would you agree with that assessment? Is that part of your philosophy as a manager?
ALEX CORA: No, no, no. Actually I had a meeting with some of our players, like, hey, man, you guys are good. You should play the part. And I think we show emotion. They've got that thing, whatever they do when they hit doubles, that hip thing.

But, yeah, different teams, very talented. They celebrate however they feel is right. There's nothing wrong with what the Astros do. I think it's actually cool for the game. When they started doing that staring thing, I think the whole town kind of got caught up. And there were some cool videos of schools and kids and firefighters doing the stare down, which is great for the game.

I said it yesterday, the more the people talk about the game, the better it is. We've got so much talent now that it's fun to watch, and people should tune in and watch what's going on.

I compare the series to those Saturdays in the late '90s when FSU and Miami played, that there were a lot of first-rounders and a lot of swag and good athletes. The same here. You've got first-rounders, best international players and all that stuff. So it's fun. It's fun.

Q. Other than Sale, is everyone available out in bullpen today? And have you officially named a starter for tomorrow?
ALEX CORA: Rick is the starter tomorrow. Rick. So we'll maneuver it. Like I said, in the playoffs you try to win today and then plan for tomorrow. And we know Rick is available tomorrow. He's in line, but you never know. You never know what can happen today. We might play 25 innings and he has to pitch.

Q. You said you talked to the players about having more fun. What was their reaction, and was that around the hip swagger thing?
ALEX CORA: Surprise. You've been around our guys. They're great kids. They're awesome. Very humble. But I think people should know who they really are with the way they act on the field. Like Mookie and I talk about him smiling, and Jackie, who is very quiet, the other day he hit that double and he celebrated, finally. And that's what it's all about. This is October.

I mean, I've been at events, it's all in from pitch one in the WBC. You saw what we did last year. And I think people know who won the tournament. But I think we won the heart of the baseball fans, what we did with the blond hair and all the celebrations and Javy Baez pointing at people. That was fun. That was awesome, and not because I was the GM.

But as a baseball fan, there was no -- they play the game right and it was fun. I'm not saying bleach your hair and go to the extreme like that, but I have no problem with them showing emotion on the field.

Q. When did you have that meeting?
ALEX CORA: It was in spring training, spring training. It was actually Xander, Jackie and Mookie. And what I told them is, you guys are very threatened and this is how people see you from the opposition. I told them all their attributes. So I said, man, play the part.

Q. You spoke about Mookie a little bit. Just wondering what your thoughts on how much he's grown just this year alone. Do you consider him a leader of this team and what he's meant for the game of baseball?
ALEX CORA: He can do it all on the field. He hits for power. He hits for average. He gets on base. He steals bases. He plays good defense. He's not selfish. We move him to center field and he never asks why. I told him you're going to lead off from day one all the way until November. And he didn't ask why. He wants to win. And he's a good teammate. As far as like communication-wise, he's awesome down there.

Sometimes he feels like he gotta let the veterans run the clubhouse. And I don't feel that way. I feel like if you have something to say and it's going to help the team, go ahead and say it. Regardless if you are Dustin Pedroia or you have one year of service. And he's learned. He's learned.

And he's had some big moments throughout the season. Sometimes I challenge him because sometimes we take him for granted because he's that talented. And we did in New York before the clincher. He went 5-for-5 and I think the home run off of Chapman. Challenged him again in the ALDS. He did a good job.

You know what, I'm going to challenge him today see what he can do here. But he's been good. He's good for baseball. He's a complete player.

Q. Now that you've been part of in-season trades on both sides as a player and as a manager, what have you learned about the risks and maybe benefits of adding players in season? And what is it like to get, like Steve Pearce and Kinsler and Eovaldi after the close that maybe you didn't have before?
ALEX CORA: There's trades that get all the headlines and there's others that people don't talk about. And I do feel that our trades were great baseball trades. Pearce, where we were in the roster, we were looking for that right-handed bat that will come off the bench and platoon with Mitch. And he's been outstanding. Actually he's been great against lefties and righties and he's really been great at first base.

Ian, defensively, he's been great. I know offensively he knows that he can do more, and we expect him to do more. But what he's done defensively is an infield that we kind of struggle making plays. And now we turn double plays, making rangy plays, and he fit right in in the clubhouse.

Nate, everybody knew about the stuff. Everybody knew we were looking for pitchers. I think we threw you guys a breaking ball; instead of going one way we went the other way. But there was a reason. And we feel that stuff-wise, he was probably the best out there that was in the market and they recognized that early on. That was a name that I kept hearing and hearing. I was, like, please, God, come on, let's do it. And he's been great. He's been great. We're very happy with that.

About trades and all that, we saw it last year with Houston. At one point, Jeff was patient enough that he didn't pull the trigger on July 31st. But at the same time he was working on other things. And he was very, very, very patient and pulled the trigger with, what, a minute left in August. And it was probably the biggest trade in the Houston Astros organization.

What JV brought, not only stuff-wise and as a player, but what he brought into that clubhouse, it was needed at that point. It was very needed. Everybody knew how Dallas felt when nothing happened earlier in the season, and I think he gave the organization that boost that was needed for the Astros to win the World Series.

Q. Every trade that the Red Sox -- those three Red Sox trades this summer, did they add something that you felt like you needed the same way that you guys needed Verlander?
ALEX CORA: You always have room to improve. And like I said, where we were in the roster, we needed that right-handed bat to complement Mitch. Defensively we needed help, too, and Ian, he's been one of the best defenders in the league. And then we needed an arm. So, yeah, they help.

Q. Just a follow-up on the trade issue. Obviously early in the season you helped make the decision to release Hanley. Looking back on that, do you think that that helped the roster at the time and throughout the year?
ALEX CORA: We were getting one of the best second basemen in the Big Leagues a day later. It was Dustin. So we felt it was the right move because Dustin was coming and where we were in the roster, we felt that Blake was going to be a part of what we were trying to accomplish with his versatility. And then also Christian gets hurt and his role got bigger.

So I'm not saying that we got it right, but where we were at that point and where we were going roster-wise, it was a move that we had to make.


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