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October 26, 2018

Alex Cora

Los Angeles, California - pregame 3

Q. Just a thought on what J.D. did to test that ankle out there, and your thoughts and reasoning behind Benintendi sitting out tonight?
ALEX CORA: With Jackie playing, J.D., he's okay. It's October 26th, I think it is, whatever. He went through the repetitions and he told me he's ready to play. We're playing him in left.

As far as matchups, for what we have information-wise, there's no big difference. Maybe Beni has the edge. But Jackie's defense with J.D. in left field, it makes sense for us.

Also we keep Beni on the bench, we have our lefties playing. We've got Mitch and Brock and Rafy. So we kept that bat on the bench and I think he'll show up in the middle of the game. It's a good matchup for us against a righty or lefty. We feel comfortable with his bat. He can pinch-run, he can come in and play defense.

There's a lot of stuff that went on, but it's simple: Keep the big boy in left field and have Jackie play left-center and center field, help him out.

Q. Do you think a manager can get hot in the postseason? Everything is working out well for you. No. 2, using Eovaldi and Porcello in the bullpen, is that a plan heading into the postseason or did that evolve, especially after Rick came in in the first game against the Yankees?
ALEX CORA: No, it was the plan. We knew we were going to have an extra arm in every game. Chris is healthy, but we actually didn't know how he was going to react. We tried to build him up to 90 pitches and then six up-and-downs during the game, but it never happened. So we had to be prepared. And all of a sudden Game 1 happened in the Division Series and we went with Rick, and that was good.

The good thing about them is like, even if they pitch, when they're supposed to start, their stuff is pretty similar. I heard somebody talking about Rick in Houston -- yeah, Houston, he pitched there -- yeah, that his stuff was a little bit down. I don't think his stuff was down. I just thought when we went to certain guys, it wasn't a good game plan. Like Tony Kemp, it was a cutter down and in, that's why I went to talk to Kimbrel in the 9th when Tony was up, I said, "Hey, stay away from him. Don't pitch in."

I think his stuff is okay. And they've been able to maintain their stuff.

What was the other one?

Q. Can a manager get hot in the postseason?
ALEX CORA: No. It's all about the players. They're talented. We got information, we put them in spots that we feel that they're going to be successful. But in the end they're the ones that hit homers and make plays and actually they make managers look good, that's it.

Q. After you guys made the deal for Eovaldi, did you reach out to Cash? What sense did you have of what he was going to be able to do for you versus what he actually ended up doing?
ALEX CORA: Actually I texted with Snyder, with Kyle. First thing he said, "A hard worker, great guy, stuff amazing." And we saw the good Nate for two outings against Minnesota, which before he had an outing against them and he struggled. Actually the last one with the Rays, and then he pitched against them, he was good. And then the Yankee one, that series in August, that was amazing.

And then stuff-wise it was okay, but we kept attacking the same plane, I think it started in Baltimore, in the doubleheader. We stayed down in the zone. And we always talk about pitch mix. And then towards the end of the season he started pitching up in the zone, expanding both ways, and now you see the result.

But he's everything Kyle said about him. In the clubhouse he's been amazing. Hard worker. Sometimes you've got to tell him, hey, slow down, slow down. But I'm very happy for him. Very happy for him. Glad that people are noticing him now. And he's been great for us, obviously.

Q. I'm sure you're not surprised the Dodgers changed their lineup dramatically against a righty starter. As a guy who has been a GM yourself, do you see this as another trend, just the roster they've built with the versatility and the balance and the talent to have such dramatic shifts from one day to the next?
ALEX CORA: Yeah, I think versatility is huge nowadays. We talk about certain decisions we make early in the season because of that. And like tonight we're versatile tonight. We've got guys if we double-switch or we run for them, we can move around, Blake, Brock, Mookie, Pearce. So that's very important. And that's what they do. They do an outstanding job using their roster. It's a deep one. There's a lot of good players in that roster. And DR, he does a good job using them all.

Q. (Question in Spanish).
ALEX CORA: He asked me about Pedey. Like what he's meant to the club this year. Obviously I envisioned Pedey to be my second baseman, and do a lot of things on the field, contribute on the field, but it didn't happen. But what he's done in the clubhouse, in the dugout, off the field has been amazing. He's been great. Communication with the players and keep them in check, keeping them in the moment and being our 9th coach or 10th coach, I don't know, whatever he's been, he's been great.

Disappointed? Yeah. He's one of the best second basemen in the Big Leagues. I knew going into the situation it was going to be cool. He's one of my best friends. But things happen for a reason and he's been upbeat. He's been there with his teammates, and he's been a big part of what we're trying to accomplishing.

And then he said something about Pedey managing, well, we'll see. He's very fiery.

Q. The question for you is on the whole propensity of sign stealing and the focus on tipping the pitches. And you had the thing with Houston in the other series. And now Machado, some people are thinking that he's at second base stealing signs. What's your assessment of the whole thing? Why is is there so much focus on it now?
ALEX CORA: You just have to be prepared as a team. That's the only thing you can do. Stealing signs and tipping has been going on forever. I learned in, I don't know, in Miami in college, we used to do it. I don't know if that's good for the program, but, yeah, we used to do it.

And then I played -- in winter ball, it really doesn't matter how talented you are, you better know the game and pay attention to the game because you're not playing Double-A or A-ball.

In 1996 I played in Vero Beach, Florida, and then I played winter ball and I'm playing with Big Leaguers, and that's when you learn to start paying attention to details.

In 2000 I played for Sandy Alamo Senior, and Sandy, he was a guy, he'll always tell you, the game will tell you something, you just have to pay attention to it. The scoreboard is not for the fans, the scoreboard is for the players. Outs, innings, strikes, all that stuff, if you pay attention to that something is going to tell you what to do on the field. And then that same year Robbie played for us for ten days, and that was amazing. I mean, his baseball IQ is off the charts. He tries to take advantage of every little detail.

This guy at that time we knew he was going to be a Hall of Famer, and I still remember there's one out, he's at second, and we're playing in Mayagüez, that's like the biggest rivalry for us in Caguas. And the catcher he was flipping the ball back to the pitcher, back to the pitcher, back to the pitcher, and we're talking about Robbie Alomar, one of the best players in the Big Leagues and he's playing winter ball. Pitch, flip it, and he took off to third. We were in awe. Like, if this guy is doing this, we better start playing that way.

So that's what I learned from them and that's what we tried to do.

Q. Kevin Cash loses yet another coach in Charlie Montoyo, and obviously he lost Rocco Baldelli already. Talk to me about the Rays turning out like the Astros, some managers. And also Montoyo becomes the third Puerto Rican coach active - Dave Martinez, you, and Joe Espada is still in the mix for a couple of jobs. The personal pride that you feel with the Puerto Rican coaches?
ALEX CORA: Like I said before, I don't put limits. I'm proud of them. It's awesome. And I'm glad that people saw him or saw Charlie as capable. That's it. I've been saying it for five or six years. This is not about minorities. It's not about him being Latino or Puerto Rican. Charlie Montoyo is a great baseball man. And he's been coaching and managing for a lot of years. He's actually in the Hall of Fame of Triple-A. The Jays got a Hall of Famer.

Where they're at in the organization, it fits, because he teaches the game and there's a lot of young players they're going to get in the next few years, they're going to impact the game. But he's the right guy. And I'm proud of that.

But like I said, I'm glad that they saw him as a capable guy and he's there, same with Espada. But it's the same with Ron Roenicke, it's the same with Rocco Baldelli. There's only 30 jobs, and there's 30 owners. And they're going to hire who they feel is capable. And the only difference is that the last two years they saw Davey as a capable manager, the people here in Boston, they saw me that way, and now Toronto did it with Charlie.

Q. You said that Eovaldi was obviously scheduled to start tomorrow, but you said that if the right situation presents itself tonight, he could get in the game tonight out of the bullpen. Do you see any kind of scenario where he pitches a clean, quick inning, and he could still start the game tomorrow?
ALEX CORA: We'll talk about that after the game, see how he feels, but probably not. Probably not. If he pitches today, it's very similar to Chris in New York in Game 4 that we were up by three, I think, going into the 8th and we feel that he can pitch that inning, keep it that way and then we go to the next guy and close it.

It's still baseball. You never know, a walk, a hit and a tie game, but it's a chance we're taking. And if he pitches today, most likely he won't pitch tomorrow.

Q. What kind of a luxury is it to have a guy who's ready out of the bullpen tonight, and also ready to start the game tomorrow depending on what happens?
ALEX CORA: It's been great. It's not only him, it's the rest of the rotation. David Price texted me last night, "I'm ready for tomorrow." That's great. That doesn't mean that we will use him, but the willingness to be able to compete in a game that probably they shouldn't, you know, because they got their program. But right now, I've been saying it, we're all in. They know it. They understand. They understand how we are managing the game, how we're attacking the opposition. And if they're healthy, they're willing to take the risk.

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