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October 23, 2018

Alex Cora

Boston, Massachusetts - pregame 1

Q. Can you talk about adding Pomeranz and dropping Workman.
ALEX CORA: Yeah, it has to do more about who we're playing. Got a bunch of lefties, they mix and match. I was joking earlier today, it was like playing hockey against them, you know, all the shifts. They change in the third inning and they change again in the sixth and you've just got to be prepared.

Last year the experience I had against them last year, the way the Astros' roster was, Francisco Liriano was the only lefty, and it got to a point where he had to pitch in the World Series, and he got two big outs. I think he got Bellinger out in Game 6. The Dodgers ended up winning that game. And then in Game 7 he came in and got Bellinger out.

So I do believe that Eddie and Drew at one point in this series, they're going to have to get one of those lefties out or one of those righties with reverse splits out. And he'll be ready for it. He's been doing an outstanding job the last two weeks working on mechanics, actually his velocity, and I know he wasn't in the game but velocity is up, 93. We've been looking for that the whole season. When that velocity is up, then the other pitches come into play. And we do feel that his mix is going to be a good one against them.

Q. Your first year as a manager seemed to go pretty smoothly from the outside. Wondering if any part of the job ended up being tougher or more challenging than you anticipated?
ALEX CORA: Yeah, when you have to make decisions, it's always tough. Sending guys down, taking them out of the lineup. The Hanley situation, that was a tough one. And it's not easy. It's not easy. It's always cool to give guys good news. But it's always tough to give guys bad news. And throughout the season you have to do that and that's the tough part.

But we have a job to do as an organization and you have to make moves that you feel that are going to benefit what we're trying to accomplish. But that's the tough part. That's a very tough part of the job.

Q. When a player like Jackie Bradley Jr. is going well, what impresses you most about him at the plate?
ALEX CORA: About what?

Q. Jackie at the plate, what impresses you the most when he's going well?
ALEX CORA: He's been going well for a while. Discipline, hitting the ball in the air, the head of the bat is staying through the zone, and he can do damage in any mistake. We saw it against the Astros: James, he hung a change-up to him, and he hit it out of the ballpark. Osuna went to the pitch that he was missing for, I don't know, for two months. And I read some quotes that Roberto said, "I've been pitching him there the whole time and I'll go there again," but at one point of the season he wasn't able to catch up with that pitch. I think they threw 43 fastballs in that spot, he swung and missed probably like 30 times, and the others ones he didn't put in play; he fouled them off.

He's good. He's good. He has power all over the place. When he's locked in, he takes his walks. And then when he's on the bases, he's a threat. I think they threw him out once in the regular season, and the other day it took a very special catcher to throw him out. He's fun to watch. He's fun to watch.

I do believe and I don't want to get ahead, I want to stay in the moment with the World Series, but I'm looking forward to next year, to him having a full season and see where it takes him.

Q. Since David Price's last start, following the start, have you seen a different David Price, someone who's maybe more relaxed, relieved, more confident? And if so, how would that affect him going forward?
ALEX CORA: No, I see the same guy. I see a teammate taking care of a lot of stuff in the clubhouse, getting ready for his next start.

Nothing has changed. Nothing has changed. He talked about it obviously after the clincher, that he doesn't have to answer questions but he knows that his next start is a big start. Tomorrow is going to be a big one. So we count on him. His stuff was electric in Houston. His change-up actually played like a split, and I'm looking forward to seeing him perform tomorrow.

Q. Along those same lines, a lot of talk about David's velocity, obviously returned quite a bit in Game 5 against Houston, but Chris and David, when you and Dana are in the dugout evaluating them early in the games, how much does velocity matter and how much does control and command matter?
ALEX CORA: Control and command, that's what is important. We get caught up with velocity with David, and with Chris, I do feel against Houston he didn't have a slider, and he was a one-pitch guy on the mound. And it was fastball glove-side to righties. And he survived for four, I think it was. He actually found his slider in the last hitter of the third inning and then in the fourth inning, but at that point I had to make a decision and we took him out of the game.

But for me it's about command with them. David, he showed it right away against the Astros and expecting that from Chris tonight.

Q. Early in the season you had trouble winning games against left-handed starters. Steve Pearce has helped stabilize that a little bit. Can you tell us what impact he's had in that specific regard and why that could be important in this series.
ALEX CORA: He's been great against lefties and righties. From day one when he faced CC at Yankee Stadium, the first pitch he hit a double. The next at-bat, the first pitch he saw he hit a double. We knew he was going to help us out. One thing as a team, we didn't do too much damage now. We put the ball in play and we get our hits against lefties, but we didn't hit the ball out of the ballpark. And when he got here he helped us out to do that. I don't know how many home runs J.D. has against lefties, not too many I'd guess, and Xander, the same way, but it they keep putting quality at-bats. But as soon as Pearcie got here, we started doing that and hitting for extra-base hits against lefties, and he's been great.

One thing about lefties, and I mentioned it halfway through the season, we don't get a mulligan or a pass, but we probably faced the best lefty in the Big Leagues three or four times, (Blake) Snell. Take him out of the equation and probably the numbers are a little bit better. I know you cannot do that, but he had our number; he was great.

We've been good against lefties lately, Happ, CC and Keuchel. I know it's a big challenge with them, with all the lefties, but we're prepared to.

Q. You referenced the Hanley situation a little while ago, No. 1, did you still think he could hit? And No. 2, what made it such a tough situation for you, not only in relation to him but in relation to convincing your bosses that this was the direction you needed to go?
ALEX CORA: People made a big deal about that I was the one that pushed for the decision, but we've been talking about that particular situation, with Dustin coming back, since Spring Training. And we saw like a hundred different scenarios. And Pedey was coming back, Mitch was swinging the bat well. So we felt as far as Hanley performing as a backup guy to our pinch-hitter, it wasn't going to work. Hanley needs his at-bats to be good.

He wasn't swinging the bat well. He was having trouble catching up with velocity. He wasn't hitting the ball in the air. He was hitting a lot of ground balls. But at that point we felt that Mitch defensively and offensively was going to be an upgrade and we were going with him, we're going to go with him, and at the same time we knew that Blake was going to be a big part of us. He wasn't playing that much. He wasn't catching. But still his versatility was huge for us. He can run. He can play first. He can catch, play the outfield. So we felt that versatility was a big part of what we needed and that's why we made the move.

Q. All these guys were part of the same draft class in 2011. In your experience how much benefit is there, if any, for a group of guys to be able to come up together at the same time, like they did?
ALEX CORA: I think we talked about this in 2015 with Kansas City. They all came up together. They won a lot in the Minor Leagues and they knew each other. It really helps in the clubhouse. I think like nowadays it's not like when I came up that the veterans, they were tough on first-year players. Now it's not as tough. Actually, I tried to make sure the first-year players are included, you know. Like I don't mind a first-year player to come to my office and tell me how he feels about the lineup or something that we should do, because at the end of the day he's part of what we're trying to accomplish.

But for them to come up together I bet there were some great conversations in A-ball, eight-hour trips, about playing together in the World Series and winning the championship for the city and the Boston Red Sox, and now they have the chance.

Q. You talked about the togetherness this team has and one of the reasons it's so likable, everybody gets along. You referenced a team dinner right before the season started. What did that tell you that you had such a big turnout and how that went?
ALEX CORA: Yeah, we've got to thank Eduardo Rodriguez for picking up the tab. That was huge. It was a great moment. And then there's been some powerful moments throughout the season and that was the first one. To have the whole traveling party in one place. You had guys talking about their experiences, Jason Varitek and talking about what it means for him to be a Red Sox. David Price, how hungry he is to win a World Series. J.D. Martinez, we asked him how he feels to hit four home runs in one game. All that stuff.

And then at the end, everybody knows about the situation with Craig. And he was the last guy that talked. And he was very powerful, you know. He really takes pride on finishing games. He really takes pride of, "You guys work for eight innings and then in the ninth it's my job to secure wins and pick you guys up," and then the way he talked, there were -- it was emotional. It was emotional. And it was a great moment for us.

Q. How electric do you think Fenway will be tonight?
ALEX CORA: I can't wait. Can't wait. They're going to start banging on the things over there and they're going to be loud. Forget the weather. They've been looking forward to this team to making it to the playoffs, to advance in the playoffs and to make it to the World Series and win the World Series, and they're going to be a big part of what we're going to do.

This place is going to be loud. It's going to be electric and looking forward for that first pitch. It's going fun. It's going to be fun.

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