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October 5, 2021

Alex Cora

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Fenway Park

Boston Red Sox

Pregame Press Conference

Q. Can you talk about the loss of JD Martinez and the new roster moves you made?

ALEX CORA: I mean, obviously we know what he means to us and the fact that he cannot play today is a tough one. But, at the same time, they got some guys over there that they're banged up. They're not part of it. And I think this is the grind of 162 games. The way it happened, I mean, JD has been stepping on that bag for ten years. It just happened that, slip, and he's out now.

But we made some adjustments lineup-wise. We do believe that we created some balance with the adjustments that we made. I don't know what he said about it. But it's just this is where we're at. And it just happened that now Kyle is going to lead off and Kiké is going to hit second and Xander is going to hit behind Devers, which is very important for us.

As far as the roster, it's a different game. This is different. This is not 162 or a five-game series or a seven-game series. You have to adjust for this madness because that's what it is, you know, it's nine innings or ten innings or whatever it is, whatever it takes and you have to adjust your roster accordingly.

We haven't had three catchers on a roster the whole season and you have to do it now. Especially in their situation they're in with Higashioka starting, with Plawecki starting, well you have to make adjustments. And it's fun to make adjustments, but at the same time it's kind of like this is weird, right? This pitcher is out of the roster, this guy is in right, but it's the nature of the tournament, right? This is what everybody likes is a one game playoffs, and we're ready for it.

Q. Kiké was just talking about experience and how much that means, playoff experience, for you as a manager having been through 2018, been through clinching games, been through even the last few weeks to get here. What does that mean tonight?

ALEX CORA: This is different. I've never been in this situation. I do believe like I told you earlier, yesterday, out of all the games that I have managed, the toughest one was Sunday because you have to stay in the moment and think about the craziness that people were talking about, four-way tie or three-way tie. And then you look at the scoreboard, we're behind and they're up and we're up and they're zero-zero. And that was really tough.

In this one, you stay in the moment. That's what you've got to do. That's why Eddie is in the roster, that's why Nick is in the roster. We can talk all we want about Tampa or flights or whatever. That's all talk. You have to get it done now. And I do believe that as a staff as a group we've been staying in the moment since February 9th or 10th when we showed up to Ft. Meyers. And nothing is going to change today. But at the same time, it's not an easy game to manage. From afar, it looks great. As a baseball fan from the coach, why this? Why that?

But when you're here, you start thinking about the game over and over and over again. And one of us is going to win. And hopefully it's us, but it's not an easy game to manage.

Q. (Question and answer in Spanish)

Q. When you bring in a new player, what is the difference in your level of confidence when you bring in a guy with the experience of a Kiké or a Schwarber and the Yankees have Rizzo and guys like that as opposed to guys who haven't been in this kind of pressurized environment?

ALEX CORA: You mean in the season or for the playoffs? Overall.

Q. Yeah. Overall.

ALEX CORA: That's what we talk about in Spring Training. A lot of people thought that we were in experienced and when you look around, Hunter was in the World Series last year. Enrique, he's been in the World Series the last three years. We added Kyle through the years. It's always helpful, you know. But at one point they were young kids too, you know, learning from others.

I think that is the situation we're in right now. But if you look at us today lineup-wise, you know, the catcher has played in the World Series, the third baseman has a World Series ring, the shortstop does too. We are experienced. We've been in this situation before in the playoffs.

So it's always comfortable to know that, you know, in the clubhouse, they're going to be talking the game, being relaxed, and just getting ready for 8:05. Outside they know how to prepare for stuff like this, and it's always comfortable as a manager to have a group like this.

Q. Alex, you just talked about never having managed a game like this one, like tonight. Where can you draw upon from your past postseason experience to manage your bullpen and how aggressive are you going to be?

ALEX CORA: I mean, if I'm more aggressive, there's another level of aggressiveness. We always are all in. We are. If you look back, you know, we were up 2-0 nothing in the World Series and we burned our starter in Game 3. So, you know, we're all in always, you know. That's my mentality. And with this group, you know, we should be all in.

But let's say it's a seven-game series or a five-game series, you never know man because you might get a call in an hour and they might pull somebody from the field, you know. So we don't take anything for granted. And I think those experiences are going to help me out.

But you've just got to be ready, just got to be ready. You trust your starter, you trust your players. But at the same time you trust the people behind them. So hopefully we make the right decisions when we have to and we can win this game.

Q. Alex, how can this experience help guys like Duran and Wong just in their development?

ALEX CORA: Just to be around is great. I think my first playoffs as a player was in '04, and I can tell you how nervous I was, playing against the Cardinals. And for them to be around and they might be part of it...

We lived it with Jacoby in 2007, right? I was thinking about that today, you know, like, you never know. You never know. The kid might come in and hit a ball in the gap and hit a triple and score a run. But I think it's important for them not only on the field but in the clubhouse, you know, the preparation, what takes place. You know, the anxiety. The countdown to 8:00, you know. I think that's part of it.

I bet some of them, they didn't even think they were going to be part of this. But because of the uniqueness of this game, some of them are here and I hope they enjoy the experience.

Q. What's the thought on Sawamura is out of the roster and how was his reaction when you delivered the message to him.

ALEX CORA: Well, I mean, it's always tough to tell somebody that has been with the club the whole season that they're not going to be part of this game, you know, or whatever series. But like I said, this is a different game. It's a one-game playoff and you have to make adjustments accordingly. And he understands. There's no promises obviously, you know, but, you know, if we advance, then we'll make adjustments with the roster. So he knows that. He's all in. He understood. And he's getting his work in just in case, you know, something happens and we advance and see where we go.

Q. You talked about Schwarber wanting to split up the lefties. He has great numbers in the leadoff spot when he was in the Nationals. Did that play into it at all?

ALEX CORA: Not really. Not really. But he's done it before. We know that. It really doesn't matter the order, because I do believe Kiké puts a quality at-bat as far as like, you know, pitch selection, all that. But having those two together is a tough at-bat. They grind, they're very disciplined when they're locked in. So, yeah, I mean, I would love him to do what he did with the Nationals, of course, you know. But the goal is for us to put quality at-bat after quality at-bat and put pressure on Gerrit and hopefully it works.

Q. Alex, Nate pitched very well against the Yankees earlier this year but not his last time. Is there any specific reason you focused on that he didn't pitch as well last time and is it a concern because it was only a short while ago?

ALEX CORA: No. Not really. I think the good ones, they struggle. Hanging split in the first inning, two runs from their cutter that was driven to right center by a great hitter. Seven runs right there. So I don't think they're concerned with us grinding our bats against Cole, you know, in a 7-0 game. And he only went five or whatever. I don't think they're concerned that we got to Gerrit early in the season. You just go with the best that you have. And they're going with their best. And we're going with our best right now. So obviously you learn a few things and you make adjustments. That's the whole thing about playing them not too long ago.

But at the same time, they're going to do the same thing. They're going to adjust and go from there. What happened two weekends ago, it really doesn't matter. At that point, everybody thought we were going somewhere if, you know, we made it to the playoffs. And it didn't happen we're right back here in Fenway Park. And I think both of them are prepared. They're great pitchers. They make adjustments in between starts. They study their opponents. And the hitters, they better be at their best tonight because both of them are really, really good.

Q. Alex, do you plan on addressing the team? If not, why not? And if you do, what will the gist of your message be?

ALEX CORA: No. No. I mean, we talk after we clinch and that's it. There's no rah rah speeches here. I mean, if you need that, you're in the wrong business. It's Red Sox/Yankees for the chance to advance in the playoffs. We're good. We're good. If I say something, it will be after the game.

Q. Alex, with Kiké it wasn't always a straight line necessarily. But did he ultimately give you what you wanted from him?

ALEX CORA: I mean, that and more. As a player, he been amazing. He's been amazing. One of my goals, like I told you guys right before the season when we talk about him being the lead-off guy or when we signed him, I wanted people to recognize him for the player, not the Rally Banana or, you know, making jokes and dancing, you know. I wanted people to recognize him for what he brings from 7 to 10 PM.

And the quality of his at-bats from a certain point on, they've been amazing. The way he prepares has been great. He brought a lot from previous experiences. His relationship with Utley has put him in a different level. And this is from preparation on the field, off the field. And it was a great signing by Chaim and the group. I knew he was a good player.

But honestly -- and I've known this kid since he was a baby -- he's one of the best players from Puerto Rico. And we have some good players. But the way he impacts the game offensively, defensively has been amazing. He changed that weekend with that play the other day. And he hasn't played second. He's been playing center field for a month. He goes to second base, and he makes probably the biggest play defensively of our team. And I'm very proud of him. He's been amazing for us. He's been amazing for us.

Q. With what you guys sort of -- (no microphone) -- only team under the 85 percent threshold this postseason will be a disadvantage at all?

ALEX CORA: Hopefully not. Hopefully not.

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