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October 17, 2018

Alex Cora

Houston, Texas - pregame 4

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Alex Cora.

Q. Can you give us an update on Chris Sale?
ALEX CORA: He's not starting tomorrow. We talked about it today. He still feels weak. Like I said earlier he lost some weight. I know that's hard to believe but, yeah, he did.

He didn't throw a bullpen today. He's feeling better compared to yesterday, but physically he's not there yet. So I think if necessary he'll pitch Game 6. He feels that he'll be ready for that one. And we'll go from there.

Q. Who is starting tomorrow?
ALEX CORA: We'll find out after tonight. We've got Rick today. David will be in the bullpen tonight. We've got a few options, but we'll manage this one, see where we're at at the end and decide who starts tomorrow.

Q. Justin Verlander recently mentioned beginning the second half of his career at age 35, which is kind of scary. You were teammates with Bartolo Colon and Tim Wakefield, two guys who pitched well in their 40s. Based on what you know and what you've seen of Justin, does he strike you as the kind of pitcher that can be that effective that long?
ALEX CORA: Yeah, because he's always looking for ways to improve. When he got traded, he sat down with the analytic department and the pitching side of the Houston Astros, and I think that meeting took like an hour and a half, two hours, to show them the, "Astro way," that you can attack guys in certain ways and you don't have to like waste too many pitches.

And he bought into it. He bought into it. He's a guy that, he still uses his fastball. But he uses it in different spots now compared to a few years ago. He still has the second gear after second time through a lineup. Also he's still throwing 97, 98.

He's an elite pitcher. He takes care of himself. He loves the game. He loves to compete. I don't see why not. I think he can pitch for a lot of, a lot of years and he'll be good.

Q. Does he strike you as the kind of guy who once his stuff diminishes, his fastball down in the low 90s, his ego would be able handle that and I'm going to be a finesse guy now?
ALEX CORA: You have to ask him that one. Like I said, he still has that 97. Kind of like Curt at the end. I think he can do that, he can pitch at 90, 91 and whenever he has it -- whenever he needs it he can go up to 95 in five or six years, whenever the velocity is coming down. But that's what Schilling did toward the end.

I don't think it's going to be like C.C., like going from throwing that hard to like being a finesse guy and the cutter and the slider. But I still feel that, yeah, with his command, I don't see a problem for him to keep going and pitching and always having 94 in the tank.

Q. You guys were the only team out of the four still playing to carry 11 pitchers. With Chris' health, any regrets now that you didn't elect to choose that 12th guy?
ALEX CORA: Not really, because knowing the way we were going to use our catchers, how aggressive we could be with them, we needed that extra hitter. You've seen already, Mitch have pinch-hit twice for Christian. He got a base hit. He got a hit-by-pitch.

So that was a reason and also we also knew we were going to have a rover. Yeah, I just made that up, a rover. (Laughter). I'm en fuego today. (Laughter).

And also we knew Joe could give us multiple innings, Hembree, Workman. So we were pretty sure that we could use those guys on multiple innings. We rely on our starters. And then we expect them to go five, six innings, just like they do.

So that's why we kept it at 11. Is it perfect? We're about to see. Obviously we didn't expect David to feel this way, but it is what it is. We'll manage Game 4 the way we plan it already. And if everything goes right then tomorrow we'll find somebody to give us outs.

Q. You mentioned that David would be in the bullpen today. If Chris is going Game 6, is David available potentially to start Game 5 if he doesn't go today on short rest? Or how will you use him potentially the rest of the way?
ALEX CORA: We've got options. We've got options for tomorrow. We've got Joe. We've got Eduardo. We've got David. Like I said, this game will dictate what we do tomorrow. I'm learning very, very quick that in the playoffs you live today, you figure out today, win or loss. And then tomorrow you have plenty of time to think about it.

We have options. That's a good thing. Eduardo can go multiple innings. Joe can do that. And obviously David can give us a start if needed.

Q. When you were with the Astros, how closely do you remember you guys monitoring other teams for possible sign-stealing violations? They said today it was a defensive move on their part. And MLB obviously closed it. So I guess two parts: What do you remember about that aspect of things when you were with the Astros? And do you consider it closed and do you have any suspicions anymore?
ALEX CORA: Honestly, I don't remember too much about it. One thing for sure, us, as a staff, we prepared. And I'm not talking about cameras or whatever people were thinking. We also look at the video and try to take a competitive advantage. And that's been going on forever.

I know there's a lot of people here that, they know my reputation about stealing signs or tipping pitches and all that stuff. I learned that when I was playing winter ball, 1997, or hanging out with my brother in winter ball -- Robby Alomar, Sandy Alomar, Joey Cora.

That's part of the game -- tippers, stealing signs from second, coaches moving. That's what I said yesterday, we're playing in an era of paranoia. When a hitter takes a good slider, either he was tipped by a coach or the pitcher was tipping his pitches.

The other day there was an article on The Athletic, I think it was, that they showed Severino with his head tipping his pitches. I was upset because we didn't see that one. Honestly. (Laughter) and it's funny because whenever somebody gets hit, he's tipping. Whenever somebody takes a pitch, he knew it was coming. If he gets a hit with men on second, they're giving the signs.

Give credit to the hitter. Those guys are pretty good. They can do the job. And also give credit to the pitchers. I remember Randy Johnson -- this is before I played -- when he pitched with my brother in 1995 with the Mariners -- and I was, what, whatever it was. I knew every pitch that was coming from the glove. And he still became a Hall of Famer.

So at the end, all this talk about tipping and signs and all that, you know what, the pitcher executes his pitches, the hitter is not going to hit it. The hitter's going to have a good game plan, like we did yesterday against Keuchel. That's going to happen in the first three hitters of the game. Then he's going to make adjustments and then he's going to go five innings.

So I don't know, man. I was thinking about it the whole night and it's kind of ridiculous that with these two talented times the talk is about stealing signs and tipping pitches and all this stuff.

Q. Is it distracting, the fact that people are talking about this instead of talking about the way you guys are performing on the field?
ALEX CORA: To us, no. We -- I mean, you prepare and you try to slow it down and you don't want to get caught up on the paranoia. You can't do that. If you do that, advantage to the offense. And that's the way it works.

So you have to prepare, have your set of signs, be ready. If you feel something's going on with the first base coach, hey, man, cover it. Or change the signs, you know? Or let them know. I don't know.

But for us, no. Nothing changes. We still are going to do what we do. We're going to pay attention to details. The game talks, to be honest with you. There's a lot of stuff that happens out there that if you pay attention you can take advantage of it.

And I talk about it in my first press conference with the Red Sox. We're going to win some games, and we will steal some games because the game will dictate what we do. And if we have a chance to steal a game, we'll do it. We'll do it.

Q. With cameras everywhere, do you feel like one solution to the paranoia and also to speed up the game would be for MLB to adopt, like, wireless communication somehow like the NFL does? Would you be in favor of that?
ALEX CORA: I think they do it in college, don't they? I think the ACC does that. Like the pitching coach to the catcher. At least that communication, because it used to be the whole sign stuff, then the catcher would have to relay the sign.

I think that's, if it started already, it's not going to surprise me that -- I don't want to say sooner rather than later it's going to happen, but it might happen.

We can talk about that later on. Right now, kind of like the topic for me, I know it's very important, but it should be the Astros and the Red Sox and what's happening on the field.


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