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October 17, 2021

Alex Cora

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Fenway Park

Boston Red Sox

Workout Day Press Conference

Q. Alex, you had two choices between Eduardo and Nick. What goes into the order, and does Nick now started Game 4?

ALEX CORA: Nick will be in the bullpen tomorrow, and then we'll decide what we're doing in Game 4. We feel like Eddie throwing the ball well. Nick is throwing the ball well. We'll see where it takes us tomorrow.

But somebody has to start. If we stay away from Nick, most likely Nick is going to start Game 4. But if we feel like we should use him, we will, but I think Eddie did a good job in the last one. Like I said, the first one in Tampa, it was more about where we were bullpen-wise and we took him out very aggressively, of course, with two outs in the second, but I think the last one with command and the stuff, he was really good. We feel comfortable with him going tomorrow.

Q. You talk about resetting sometimes on off days during the series. How good do you feel about where your pitching is lined up for the next three games, particularly relative to where they are having lost GarcĂ­a and being forced to use Odorizzi yesterday?

ALEX CORA: We're in a good place. I think yesterday was -- thinking about yesterday and also the future, right, he had good stuff. We felt like we were lined up with Adam around that pocket right there and stayed away from Nate. Also, the back thing kind of came into play. We just want to make sure he stays healthy, but I think overall going into three, four, five we're healthy, we're rested, and we do believe we're in a great spot pitching-wise.

Q. What do you feel is the significance of Game 3? It seems like when the series has been tied 1-1 during your time here, Game 3 has kind of been a building portion for you guys.

ALEX CORA: I mean, every game is important, right? We did a good job yesterday avoiding being down 2-0, which it was very important. Obviously, tomorrow somebody is going to win tomorrow, somebody is going to go up 2-1, and then Game 4, as you know is a huge game in every series, right, in a seven-game series.

But coming here, being at home, making the series the best-out-of-five and hosting three, it makes us feel good, but we still face one of the best teams in the Big Leagues. They're really good offensively on the road, and you saw it yesterday for how big of a lead it was, it was never comfortable with them. They're always a walk and a bloop and a swing away from making it interesting, and they did it yesterday. We expect that out of that offense the whole time.

Q. Eduardo had a couple of rough ones against Houston during the season. What kind of adjustments do you think needs to make this time around?

ALEX CORA: We all struggled against them during the season. It's different. Game planning, a lot of things that we learned throughout. At that point he wasn't on point. I think the change-up wasn't good. It was a bad sinker. I do believe he will be okay. The pitcher that we have now compared to who he was when we went there and then he pitched here, it's a lot different. The velocity is up. The change-up is where he wants it.

I think, obviously, we still respect them. They're really good, and they've done that to a lot of pitchers, but he is a different pitcher now than what he was earlier in the season.

Q. What went into deciding whether it would be Eduardo and Nick or Nick and Eduardo? What was the difference there?

ALEX CORA: There was a lot of thoughts, a lot of stuff that we thought about. Obviously, splitting lefties, too, is important. Don't give them a look of the two lefties in a row. That, and the fact that we still believe that Nate might help us tomorrow out of the bullpen. There's a chance that that happens, and then we'll readjust for Game 4.

We talk about all that and the fact that we play three in a row, and where we're at bullpen-wise, too, coming into this one. It's not an easy decision, oh, yeah, we're going with Eddie. There's other thought process, and we decided this morning that this is the route we're going to take.

Q. You guys haven't lost a game here at Fenway -- playoff game in a long time. Talk to us about the boost that you guys are getting here from the fans and your confidence in the next three games to potentially be able to close this thing out.

ALEX CORA: I think tomorrow is going to be fun. It's been great the last three here, the Wild Card game and the two against Tampa. You feel it around the city. People are into it. They are. They are. This is a fun week sports-wise here. There's a few guys that they really took the voluntary workout very voluntary, and they decided to go watch some other sports, and we got the Patriots, we got the Celtics, we got the Bruins, we got us this week, and for a city that enjoys sports and it's kind of like a perfect one.

B.C. played a night game yesterday. I'm in tune with them, not with the other team. It's fun. It's a fun week, and, obviously, them coming in, it's a team that has been in the Championship Series five years in a row. The Red Sox have played them. There's a third one, right? We played them in '17. I mean, whatever, yeah. However it is, yeah. This is the third time. I think it's going to be loud. It's going to be fun here.

Q. Rafi Devers turns 25 a week from today. His list of postseason accomplishments --

ALEX CORA: He turns what?

Q. 25 a week from today. His list of postseason accomplishments just continues to grow. I wonder as a baseball fan and as his manager, if you have ever allowed yourself to think what his career might look like maybe five or ten years from now?

ALEX CORA: He is one of the best young players in the Big Leagues. The thing is that Rafi, you feel like he has been around for a long time, right, and when you talk about young players, you always -- the conversation starts with Tatis, Guerrero, Soto, and they're really good. They're great. But this kid since 2017 when he showed up in Seattle that weekend, he was good. He was really good. He has been good in October too. Obviously, with time I do believe those kids are going to be part of October, but right now he is the only one out of that group, and he has been very successful.

In '17 he was great. In '18 he did some amazing things not only as starter, but as a pinch-hitter, and now you see what he is doing. I don't know what the future holds. I know that for us the future is tomorrow, and he will be in the lineup, and he is a presence. He is a force, and yesterday we can talk about the grand slam. We can talk about J.D.'s grand slam, but he went from 0-2 to a walk, and we always talk about his discipline, and them throwing him X amount of fastballs in a row. He learned a lot that weekend. He learned, and he has put it into practice in this series, and that's why sometimes we get caught up in struggles, right, like he didn't catch up with the fastball or they lost to the Yankees three times in a row. It's baseball. It's 162, and you are going to have up and down weeks, and you're going to learn from those experiences, and that's the most important thing that he learns. He understands, and now they're making adjustments, and he is actually forcing them to make adjustments, which is great.

And his baseball IQ is amazing. He is a great person. I was talking to Marly yesterday about his willingness to learn a second language because we know what that means for his career. He knows what it means for his platform. This is a city that has embraced a lot of Dominican players, a lot of Latin players, and if you look at the Celtics with Horford, and you see David and Pedro, what they mean to the community and what they have done off the field because they learned that second language. You know, and Rafi if he keeps doing what he is doing, we're going to be talking about him that way because he is very likable. He is a good kid. He enjoys playing the game. He enjoys this atmosphere, and he is doing everything possible to get to that echelon.

Q. Can you tell us how many of your guys are in Foxboro?

ALEX CORA: There were 12 tickets. Yeah, 12. I don't know -- I know Renfroe was the one that led the pack. Probably Brasier is there because --

Q. He is rooting for the other team.

ALEX CORA: Yeah, he is. I don't know. I really don't. There's, like, 12 I think that went over there.

Q. You guys have a few guys who are free agents after this year. How do you think that can affect them this time of year maybe in a positive way?

ALEX CORA: Honestly, I don't think people -- probably towards the end of the season I guarantee you they were thinking about stuff like that, but now it's not even on their radar, honestly. I think what they think right now is how we're going to try to beat them tomorrow, how I'm going to stay healthy, what I have to do to be ready for tomorrow, but that doesn't come up right now. It doesn't.

Q. I can't believe it's taken me this long to ask a question related to the WBC during the course of this postseason, but here it is. I promise it's relevant. Back in '06 I believe you played against Gurriel in that tournament. What do you recall of Yuli back then, and how has his career evolved since then?

ALEX CORA: It's funny because in '17 Yuli struggled defensively at first base in the beginning, and A.J. asked me to help him out, and we started doing early work, and he didn't like it. At that point Yuli was a veteran. He is a rookie, but he is a veteran. What I did was, okay, we used to take ten ground balls at first, and then I would put him at short just for him to feel great again, like this is what I used to do. And move his feet and make throws, whatever.

So there was one day Correa is taking ground balls with him, and he is making fun of Yuli. And when we finished, I pulled Carlos aside and Yuli. I say, hey, listen, I know you're good, I know you're very talented, but when Yuli at your age back in the day, he was a lot better than you. This guy the whole industry wanted him, so don't -- I get it, but this guy was amazing.

I remember, I think he was in San Juan, and everybody was trying to kidnap him, keep him there, and I heard a rumor that I think the Jays wanted him, and he would only play 81 games in Canada. Something crazy, but the ability to get to the fastball, the ability to turn on fastballs, the ability to hit pitches out of the zone just like he is doing right now, it was eye-opening.

Obviously, his family is baseball royalty in Cuba for the Cuban National Team. He has worked so hard for everything. Jose, he is good friends with Yuli, and Yuli went from this international superstar to a guy that right now he gets into the numbers, he knows what he needs to do to stay in the game, and then keep producing in the game, make some adjustments as far as, like, play discipline, what to attack, hit the ball in the air. He has become one of the best defenders of first base. He is really good. He is really good, and he is a great person too. He is a guy that is very family-oriented. Very proud of his brother. He is always paying attention to him. I know throughout the whole season this year he was always contacting me kind of like, keep going, keep going. I always believe in you, and he is a guy that I really enjoy watching him play and be able him.

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