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October 11, 2021

Alex Cora

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Fenway Park

Boston Red Sox

Pregame 4 Press Conference

Q. What must E Rod do tonight to be successful?

ALEX CORA: Starts with fastball command. Everybody knows that. He didn't have it last week. When he's been inconsistent, it's about that, and that's where it starts.

Q. Just a thought on after what you guys were able to accomplish last night, what's the mentality as you come into the clubhouse today as a team going into this one tonight?

ALEX CORA: We show up, and we're watching games and doing the same thing. They do an outstanding job staying in the moment. They don't get too ahead of themselves. They don't look in the past. They prepare, and they get ready to go.

Actually today we treat it like a regular day after a long night; BP's short. That's what we do during the season. When you play long games, the next day it's optional, although it's always optional for us. They understand that. We understand this. It's not our first time in this environment, in this position. We treat it like a regular day.

Q. You said at the beginning of the season that you saw a lot of similarities to the 2018 team in terms of how you would have to use your roster throughout the course of the year. Has your thinking on that changed or has it stayed the same? Also, have you seen any other similarities between this team and the team back in 2018?

ALEX CORA: We win a lot of games, although that team won a lot of games too. I don't know. We think we're versatile. A lot of people think that '18 was just nine guys and that's it, but if you look at our roster and what we did in the World Series, we platooned behind the plate, we platooned at first, we platooned at second, we platooned at third. Who was it, Jackie, Mookie, and Beni and JD. We had a lot of moving pieces. It wasn't just nine guys go out there and do it.

We had Ian and Holt. We've got Noony and Devers. We had Pearce and Mitch. We had Sandy and Christian. As far as like versatility, we have to be creative, and we try to maximize our roster the best we can. There's certain situations that we feel comfortable doing that, and there's others that we don't. We stay away from it because we have to keep our defensive team intact, and we know that we have to play defense.

That's why you didn't see Travis yesterday in one spot or Danny because we have to keep our defense intact out there, but as a group, I think that team was faster. We were able to do more running the bases, but I think result-wise offensively, it's very similar, very similar.

We will always hit. When we talk about the Red Sox, you're not going to talk about pitching and defense and timely hitting. You talk about the Red Sox, it's like they're going to score runs. So we are an offensive team just like any team.

Q. Watching Eduardo over the years, it seems sometimes he's working at a quicker tempo, energy, other times slower, more methodical. We spend a lot of time talking about his body language. Is there anything to that for you? Like what you see from his body language, does that impact what he's able to do on the mound?

ALEX CORA: Certain times. Certain times. That's something we always talk about. I think tempo is very important on the mound, regardless of where you're at. If they're hitting you or you're dominating, if you get on the rubber and you have good tempo, it makes it a little harder for the hitter. There's not too much thinking or analyzing. It's kind of like, okay, he got the ball, I've got to be ready.

Yeah, we notice that in certain days, and Christian is aware of that. Plaw, when he catches him -- although I don't think he's caught him this season. You caught me on that one. The catchers know. Jason does too and Bushy. So we always remind them, especially Eddie, hey, keep going. Good tempo, it helps him.

Q. Is he able to make that adjustment in game? Have you seen them do that at times where maybe it's not there in the beginning and then gets it going?

ALEX CORA: Yes, he's done it.

Q. I want to ask you about two of the guys you brought in this off-season, Renfroe and Kiké. What appealed to you guys about them? What roles did you expect them to fill, and how have they matched up to your expectations?

ALEX CORA: With Hunter, obviously, the power. We thought he was going to play here. Defensively, we knew what we can do, and we were trying to -- at that point, we didn't even know our outfield alignment, right? We talked a little bit about his role. He always talked about not getting at-bats against righties last year kind of affect him, just being a straight platoon guy.

He's been amazing for us since day one. In Spring Training, he made some adjustments. He hit the ball to right field, which has helped him throughout the season. You see what he's done, offensively and defensively.

With Kiké, actually, he was supposed to play a lot of second base, and he's been one of the best, if not the best, defensive center fielders in the Big Leagues. He wanted to play every day. That was his goal going into the off-season to sign with a team that would give him X amount of at-bats and play every day, and he decided to sign with us.

I knew there were a lot of teams out there that wanted him not only because he's a great person, but he's a great player. He's been great. He's been great.

Offensively, I think, obviously, he's never played every day in his career. He's always been kind of like a platoon/utility guy. In the beginning he was trying to do a lot just to prove to everybody that he was actually an everyday player.

We pulled the plug a little bit. We put him seventh or eighth for three or four days, and then he went back to the leadoff spot, and he's been great. What he's doing right now, it's fun to watch.

Q. Why did you believe that he could be an everyday guy? Because he was sort of typecast in that utility role.

ALEX CORA: I think his versatility was going to make him an everyday player in this situation. Offensively sometimes you go 0-for-10 and you don't play for a few days. Here, we felt like, okay, he can go 0-for-15, and he's going to play.

Athletic-wise, he's a great athlete. Baseball-wise, his baseball IQ is off the charts. As a teammate, he's amazing. Off the field he's great. So we felt that it was a good fit for our program. He's been in a World Series three years in a row. He played a big part of those three teams.

We felt like it was a good business decision, right? You play every day. We pay you this, and we'll see where it takes us. You see the player that we have. He's really good.

Q. The role of the manager has changed from that judge, jury, and executioner kind of role to a different one. How do you believe that role has changed? How do you believe the managers should be now? And how do you get your team to buy in? Like Garrett Whitlock was here saying, This is a guy I'd run through the wall for. So how did you get your team to buy into that role?

ALEX CORA: I think I never played with those type of managers. The managers that I had throughout my career, they were very open-minded. They were great people, great persons. They care about you, your family, and the other stuff.

I played for Davey. I played for Jim Tracy. With Tito, Jerry Manuel, Jim Riggleman. I forgot a few there, sorry. They were cool. They were good people too. I never played for somebody that it was like, oh, you've got to do it this way. I played with guys that they were very understandable, and they had great conversations and they treat you like human beings.

Yeah, from 7:00 to 10:00, we've got to do what we've got to do. But we spend so much time off the field, in the clubhouse and all that, you've got to be comfortable with them, and they have to feel comfortable with you. Never a big believer of the veterans being hard on rookies. I played with some good rookies, and they helped us to win the World Series, Dustin Pedroia in 2007. I played with Adrian Beltre when he was a rookie, and he's going to be a Hall of Famer.

That whole thing about there's a hard line, black and white, we don't even wear suits anymore. We travel in sweatpants. It's just why make them feel uncomfortable?

Yeah, there are situations that you've got to be hard on them, you've got to have tough conversations. For me it was really hard to tell Christian he wasn't going to start the Wild Card game. We sat down, it took five minutes. You've been great, Plaw's going to take the plate tomorrow. "Okay." I know he was upset, but he understands that's where we're going.

I just feel like that whole thing being tough on your players, from my end, I don't know. I don't think it's the way to do it. From my end, it's not fun to do it that way. It's not fun.

Q. This team has made a lot of comebacks this year. What is it specifically about this team that enables that ability to make the comeback, and does it remind you of any teams you've been a part of as both a manager and a player?

ALEX CORA: We can hit. So that helps. I think when you do this, you've got to be a really good offensive team. So we do that.

Not really. I don't remember a team that has done it so often like this one. Yeah, we had our moments. As a manager in '18, we did it. We did it in the World Series. We did a good job throughout the season. But this is a little bit different.

We talk about it in the dugout like, hey, let's do what we do. Put up good at-bats, and if you're a good offensive team -- just like them. What they did yesterday, they've done it the whole season. They scored the most runs after the seventh inning. They hit good pitching late in games, and their at-bats are a lot better late in games. I think, when you have good offensive teams, you give yourselves a chance for nine innings.

Q. Alex, you have played and managed in games on Patriots day before. I wonder your feelings coming to the ballpark today on this very different Marathon Monday.

ALEX CORA: It's going to be different because I know there's a lot of people in the streets very early. It's not to have lunch. Yeah, it should be loud. It should be fun. Hopefully, we can go out there and play a good baseball game and see where we are tonight after the game.

Hopefully, if we can do what we really want to do, it should be crazy tonight around here because, yeah, there was a lot of people around when I got to the ballpark, and like I said, it's not about -- they weren't only eating a hamburger. They were drinking a lot (laughter).

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