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December 9, 2019

Alex Cora

San Diego, California

ALEX CORA: Before we start, as an organization, we lost a member of our family today. We want to send our condolences to the Frates family. What he meant to not only the organization, our town, our city, but to the world, that was amazing. I just want to start off with that. So with that, go ahead.

Q. Alex, can you just talk a little bit more about Pete. You got to know him a little bit. Such a show of courage from him, his family, the way he went about it to help others ultimately get better.
ALEX CORA: It was unreal because, when the whole movement was happening, he was like just pour a bucket of ice water to somebody, and all of a sudden, everybody was doing it and raising money and the awareness and just a simple act.

I got to know him, but I think there's other people around me that they got close to him and just the fight and the effort and the love and caring about others when he was actually fighting every day just to make an impact, it was cool to see.

As you guys know, I always talk about this business, this game, whatever, sometimes we take it for granted. We focus on the wrong things. Yeah, winning and losing is great. You have to win. If not, you're going to be out of the business, but at the same time, there's more important things than baseball, and I've been saying it all along for three years now. When stuff like this happens, it puts everything in perspective, and you talk about super heroes without capes, that's what he was.

What he meant to the region, unreal. He was a great fan, a hard one too. I haven't taken a look at Twitter in a while, but he was crushing me last year while I was managing. It was a joy to have him around, whenever he was in Fenway and obviously being around in other events.

I know it's a tough one for a lot of people, but at the same time, let's focus on the positive, what he brought to us, to life, and the way he went about it. I think that's what we have to do.

Q. You talked at the end of the year about visiting a lot of players. Have you been doing that, and how are others?
ALEX CORA: Actually I visit players but not baseball players. I went to Liverpool and watched the greatest team in soccer in the world right now. We've been in touch. I know it was the off-season. There was a plan for people to go home, but it didn't work out.

Kiyoshi, he went to Devers and Chavis. I know Timmy and Peter, they went to see Benny. We've been in touch with Sale and David in Fort Myers. Christian, obviously, he's in Miami right now with Diego and Gabby, but we've been in touch.

It's been a little bit different as far as the off-season, but the communication has been there. Coaches, Marco and Carlos are working in the Dominican Republic while he's playing in Lesay (phonetic). The plan is for me to go to Fort Myers early in January to see Chris and David. Barnesy will be there too.

So I think communication-wise, as far as goals and what we want to do in the off-season, we've been good. I think, obviously, we made some changes in the coaching staff. Bushy has been in touch with all the relievers and all the pitchers, and so far, so good. It's been a good off-season so far for the Red Sox.

Q. Alex, how has your relationship with Chaim been developing?
ALEX CORA: It's been good. Like I said, a few weeks ago, had the pleasure with Dave. You know, Dave has been in the business for, what, 40 years. You're in the business for 40 years, you're not lucky, you're good. Chaim, who's, what, 36? It seems like he's been in the business for 20 years. He's really good. Obviously, they operate differently, but the goal is to win the World Series.

I think we see the game very similar. Obviously, he's going to bring some cool ideas. We're going to make some adjustments in a few things, but I don't think it's going to change that much. I think in the end as an organization our goal is to win the World Series and be consistent. You heard him earlier probably. He talked to the media, I guess, and he talk about be consistent and just be creative and get better on a daily basis, and hopefully we can accomplish that.

Q. Going back to the Astros time, were you aware at all of any of the allegations raised?
ALEX CORA: I know you have a job to do and you have to ask the question, but out of respect to the investigation that MLB has and the Astros, I'm not going to answer that question.

Q. Have the investigators talked to you yet?
ALEX CORA: I talked to MLB earlier in the process.

Q. Are you waiting to hear back from them on some things?
ALEX CORA: Like I said, I'm not going to talk about the subject out of respect for the investigation.

Q. Are you curious just to see what your roster is going to look like in Spring Training?
ALEX CORA: Always curious. I do believe that we weren't consistent at all last year. We talk about it throughout the season. There's a few things that we have found out throughout the off-season that we can do better, and hopefully we can do it. We're going to attack the Spring Training the same way. Just be ready, be healthy. I think that's the most important thing is for us to be healthy.

Somebody asked me, what do you guys need to accomplish in the upcoming two days? I said, well, honestly, the thing that we need, we can't get in two days here. We've got to wait until February and see if we're healthy, and that's the most important thing.

Q. Curious, you talk about Hyers going out to see Benny. What's been the report on him?
ALEX CORA: Actually, Benny is in a better place, I do believe, physically. It's not that he was out of shape, but his body was different last year. He was stronger, and some of his moves were slower than in previous years. I don't know if he wanted to hit home runs or he felt like he lost so much weight in the previous season that he needed to show up a little bit heavier or stronger, and obviously it didn't work out.

He's actually going back to be the athlete that we like to see. He's a better player. He can hit for power and hit for average. There's a few things, as far as mechanics, that we've been talking about it with Timmy and Peter, and if we get there, he'll be good.

If you guys think that that's the real Benny striking out 130 times, I don't see it. He's a better hitter than that, and hopefully he can put the ball in play a little bit more and he can hit for average and be the athletic player we saw a few years ago.

Q. Alex, how is that three batter minimum, do you have to retrain your mind on how to manage? How do you think that's going to affect the game at all?
ALEX CORA: I don't think it's going to affect us that much. We don't mix and match that much. Our lefties, they're pretty solid. Darwinzon and Taylor, they get lefties and righties and do a good job against both of them. So I don't think to us it's going to affect us that much.

Q. What have your conversations with Chris been like this off-season?
ALEX CORA: It's been good. I texted him the other day what he did to his university, that was amazing, not forgetting where you come from. That was great. Physically, he's in a good spot. He's in a good place. He's been very consistent with his rehab. Obviously, not sleeping that much because of the birth of the baby. We've got a few guys like that, but physically he's in a good spot. Mentally he's in a good spot.

I hate to say he's on a mission, but obviously he wasn't happy with the way the season went last year. He was trending up when he got hurt at the end. So hopefully he can bounce back, be ready for Spring Training, and be ready for the opening series.

Q. How's David doing this off-season?
ALEX CORA: David is doing good. Actually, he played catch two days ago or yesterday, and a little bit different. The feeling is different. Obviously, he's been dealing with this for a while, and it's been a grind for David to go out there and perform. He feels a little bit looser with the wrist. The feel of the ball is different, and there hasn't been setbacks. As of now, everything is trending the right way. The goal is for him to be ready for the opening series.

Q. Alex, how much did you watch the Premier 12 tournament and specifically Bobby Dalbec and what he was doing?
ALEX CORA: I follow it throughout. One thing, we saw Bobby towards the end of the season those ten days in Fenway, and we talk about making some adjustments. After that, he actually went to Arizona to work out. He worked out with Dustin a little bit. He did a good job. All of them. They did an outstanding job for Team USA.

It's a guy that we do believe controls the strike zone. Obviously, there are going to be swings and misses, we know that. I do believe he doesn't chase as much as people think and he can have an impact sooner or later for us.

Q. Seeing the success he had, is that encouraging? How can you describe that?
ALEX CORA: Very encouraging. Throughout his career, there's always a slow start, and then he finishes strong, and he went out there and made an impact. He did an outstanding job offensively. Defensively, what we saw in September at first base was very encouraging. I've seen this kid since college, and defensively he's a plus. His range, his moves, his first steps, they're really good, and we were very pleased with the way he performed.

Q. Have you had a chance to talk to Mookie this off-season?
ALEX CORA: We've been talking a lot. Talk a little bit about baseball, talk about his workouts, and other stuff. He's in a good place.

Q. When there's all these trade rumors going around, how do you kind of manage that relationship with a player?
ALEX CORA: It's the same relationship. One thing for sure, in this process, you're going to release players, guys are going to get called up, guys are going to get demoted, guys are going to get traded, but in the end, the relationship is still there. He's a guy that we like. We believe in him, and we know how much he can impact the game of baseball. So looking forward to managing him.

Q. It was like exactly a year ago, we were talking about Nate's new contract here at the Winter Meetings. What do you think he can do that he didn't do last year?
ALEX CORA: First of all, health is important, and we talked about it. For him to finish the season pitching, that was a step towards the right direction. That start against Tampa, the second to last, it was really good, the way he used his fastball, the breaking ball, the rhythm on the mound, it was good.

He's healthy in the off-season. He's working his craft. We know what he can do. We've seen it before. I do believe as a staff we need to be more aggressive in the strike zone. You saw the numbers, you see the numbers. Eduardo was great, but he led the league in walks. So there's a jab for Eduardo. The same thing with our bullpen. There was a lot of big counts. We need to avoid that.

I think stuff-wise we're right up there with the best in the league. It's just a matter of going up there and attack the strike zone.

Q. Alex, what do you think you got out of your time working in TV before you became a manager that you think helps in this job?
ALEX CORA: I'm comfortable with media. I still remember, when I started in TV, the language barrier was a big obstacle. Being in that green room and then the lights went on at 10:05, and I was like, oh, my goodness, what am I doing here?

But then -- and this is a true story, and he's one of my best friends. I love him like a brother. It's not a jab to Ozzie Guillen. But Ozzie was doing First Take. It was 10:00 in the morning, and I see how comfortable Ozzie was on TV with his Spanglish, and I thought, if Ozzie can do it, I can do it. Just be comfortable with yourself. That's what I've been saying.

I've been saying all along, I love my job. I love what I do. The thing about this I've been the same guy from five years ago. I learned that. Just be yourself. If people like it, they do. If they don't, they don't respect you anyways.

Q. In terms of position, how do you view Chavis going in?
ALEX CORA: Michael did an outstanding job at second base. He's a good third baseman. He can play third. We know we have Rafy over there, so the work with Rafy last year and obviously the way he's working this year, it seems like he's shooting for 162 games. I don't think that's going to happen, but it's a goal of his.

The way he plays second, obviously, turnover plays is something we have to get better at, but overall he did an outstanding job at second. We see him in the infield, we see him playing a lot of second base next year.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
ALEX CORA: I think he was overwhelmed at one point. We played Houston in back to back weekends. It was Gerrit Cole, he pitched at home and pitched at Minute Maid, and he got exposed. He start throwing that fastball up in the zone, and he start chasing it.

For some reason, he kept swinging and swinging and swinging. And we talk about it. There's limits. If you can hit it, don't swing at it, but it's easier said than done.

I think this off-season we tried to like slow down some moves with him. He's still going to swing hard. He's going to do damage, but at the same time, if we set our sights where they should be and he can take that pitch, he'll be in a better place.

Q. When Moreland returned from the IL, was it difficult to platoon them because he's a reverse split kind of guy?
ALEX CORA: Yeah, we've got a few guys like that. Marco, for example. Marco was great against lefties. He wasn't good against righties. But at that point, I think Mitch, what he did early in the season, he deserved to play. He was doing damage. He was getting on base. Where we were in the standings, it just made sense to play Mitch at that point, and then he got hurt.

And the plan was like at the end to play him a lot. Actually, he was going to go to Cogos (phonetic) this year to play, and he had a setback towards the end. That's why he didn't play. But we do believe he can hit lefties and righties. It's just a matter of making some adjustments offensively, and if we do that, he'll be the guy that we envision.

The strikeouts will always be there. It's just a matter of controlling the strike zone, taking walks when they don't pitch to you, and don't miss your fastball right on the mound.

Q. With the addition of the 26th roster spot, how does that change how you assess your loss and your plans moving forward?
ALEX CORA: I'll sit down with Chaim and BOH and see how we're going to do it. There's a few new rules. The three hitter rule is going to be in place next year. We'll talk about it. Probably has some ideas. BOH does too, and we'll go from there.

Q. How do you view second base and third base right now? Do you feel comfortable with the guys you have or expect any additions?
ALEX CORA: I think it's too early to talk about that. Obviously, Mitch is not there. Sammy is in Puerto Rico playing right now. Bobby, obviously, is the first baseman, Michael too. We've got Marco. We've got Lin. We've got some guys, versatile guys that can help us out. Talking about rosters, we're trying to look for versatility. That's going to help us out.

Doe believe that our guys are good. Some of them are better offensively. Others are better defensively. We just have to find the right mix. One thing for sure on the other side, we're pretty set.

Q. Alex, was the job that you did a year ago and Dave Martinez this year, what do you think that does for Latinos down the line? More Latinos were hired this off-season, just having been so successful in such a short time?
ALEX CORA: One Latino got hired. I don't know, man. I always talk about this subject. Sometimes it's tough to talk about it. I do believe that the whole rule, I understand why it's in place, but at the same time, when we stop talking about Alex as a minority, Carlos as a minority, Dave as a minority, Joey Cora as a minority, and they see us as capable guys that can run an organization, the door will be bigger.

At the same time, for how much we talk about Latinos not getting jobs, there's other guys that are capable too, and they haven't had an opportunity to get an interview or be a Big League manager.

I mean, there's only 30 in the whole world, and it's not that easy. Owners are going to make decisions. Presidents of baseball operations are going to make decisions. But I do believe that you don't have to be white, black, or Latino to be a Big League manager. You've just got to be capable. And the people that make those decisions, there's a reason they're up there, and they will make decisions for the benefit of the organization.

Q. Devers has obviously made strides defensively. I'm just curious, what do you think can go into taking that next step defensively?
ALEX CORA: With Rafy?

Q. Yes.
ALEX CORA: We're very pleased with the way he played. Obviously, the errors aren't part of the equation, but when you start looking at metrics and what he does range-wise, he's very solid. He's very solid.

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. 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 Rafy defensively, so be it. So we'll talk about it.

But I think, as far as like moving and decisions and what he did last year compared to where he was in my first year, it's night and day. The confidence too. You remember that game in Chicago when he made that error and then they hit the walk-off. He took it personally, and I'll say it now, after that, Mitch actually, he made a phone call to the Dominican Republic and talked to Adrien, and Adrien talked to Rafy, and from there on, the communication was on an every other week basis, and there's a few things that Adrien told him to do in the off-season and what he should do in Spring Training, and looking forward for him to work that way and see where it takes him.

Q. How would you compare the defensive performance of 2019 to 2018?

Q. Yeah.
ALEX CORA: Inconsistent. Yeah, we were inconsistent not only in the infield, but I think in the outfield. 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 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.

I think the next step for Xander is to become a better defensive player. 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. Turnover 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.

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.

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