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October 18, 2021

Alex Cora

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Fenway Park

Boston Red Sox

Pregame 3 Press Conference

Q. Can you talk about E-Rod and what must he do to be successful tonight?

ALEX CORA: Everything starts with command with Eduardo, right? We saw in Game 1 against Tampa he wasn't as sharp. He was great in the second game he pitched against them. So fastball command is what we always look for, and I know at one point in the season he was very inconsistent, but we feel his fastball he is playing right now. He is in a good spot secondary-wise. So go out there and compete against a great team.

Q. Hey, Alex, I think the fan support has been amazing. How would you assess it, and how does it help you coming home already at 1-1?

ALEX CORA: They've been amazing. Obviously, there was some restrictions early on, but you could see it building up, right, that snowball effect from 5% to 10%, I think it was, to 25%. I still remember, I went home, actually, for my daughter's graduation watching -- it was a Marlins game, against the Marlins on a Saturday. I was watching on TV, and I don't know how many fans we allowed, but you could feel it even on TV. Saw Adam reacting to it. And then little by little they keep adding people here. And then the Wild Card game, that was something else. Against the Rays, that was great.

They're excited. We're excited. It's Fenway Park, and there's been some special nights in October over the years, and hopefully tonight is going to be one of those.

Q. One follow-up: The team is really loose. I think "Dancing on My Own" might be one symptom of that. Are you a fan of that song, and how do you feel about the guys singing that all the time?

ALEX CORA: I mean, good for them. I do believe that at this time of year probably every team has a song, every team has, quote, unquote, extra motivation. They'll find something just to keep pushing themselves to be great, which I don't agree, right? I mean, your motivation should be three more games to get to a World Series, but that's how athletes work.

I saw the video yesterday. I saw Christian dancing at Foxboro. Good for him. I know how that feels going to those places and for the fans to let you know how cool it's been. We lived it in '18 going to Celtics games, and actually go to see the Patriots, so for those guys to be acknowledged yesterday, that was a cool video, a cool moment, and hopefully we can continue that.

Q. Happy birthday.

ALEX CORA: Thank you.

Q. I wanted to ask you about Christian. He was in here earlier and referenced this late-season conversation with you about staying ready because he wasn't getting as many plate appearances. Obviously, he did that. If you could speak a little to that, but also, if in your mind maybe that speaks well to what this team is about? Does his willingness to sort of do all that and do it so well kind of tell you something about the nature of this team?

ALEX CORA: We got a bunch of grinders, right? Yeah, there's star power. There's guys that they got World Series rings and hardware, Silver Sluggers. We have one guy that won two Silver Sluggers in one year, but you see the other guys: Hunter Renfroe coming here and try to prove people that he can be an everyday player. Same with Enrique in center field or second base, whatever. Christian trying to prove to people that he belongs to the Big Leagues.

I think as far as egos and the willingness to do what you are supposed to do to help the organization win, the team to win, it's been here since day one. Early in the season we had Marwin and Kiké and Xander. So playing-wise, you are, like, how are we going to make this happen with Christian, and he has earned everything throughout the season, and now in the postseason.

So it's a good group of guys. It's a good group. I mean, when you get here, it's not only talent. You have to get along, and you have to help each other out, and you can't be greedy in a sense. I think this group they have done that throughout the season, and that's why you see them doing what they are doing.

Q. You were talking about using a guy like Nate tomorrow. How do you sort of balance the short --

ALEX CORA: Tonight.

Q. Yeah, tonight. I'm sorry. How do you balance the short and the long term of that, and also, how can you tell he can truly do it when I imagine his answer would probably always be "yes" if you asked him.

ALEX CORA: It starts with the medical department. They're the ones -- the player can say whatever they want, obviously, but the medical department will let you know, yeah, he is good for today. It's a lot of communication, a lot of work in the training room, a lot of work in the weight room. This is not something -- we don't just decide, oh, we're going to use him just to use him. We're not going to put his career in jeopardy. If we believe that he cannot do it, then we stay away from him.

But the work starts in the offseason for these guys. Then in Spring Training and early in the season and the things that we do to keep them fresh and always thinking about the last part of the season. Staying in the moment, but knowing that if we sacrifice a few innings early in the season, there's a good chance they're going to be fresh in September -- August, September to get us to October, and then in October they're going to be fine to do the things that we did in '18.

I think what Brad (Pearson) and Brandon (Henry) do with the pitchers and everybody that is involved in that department, you know, it has helped us be probably more aggressive than other organizations, and we feel at ease doing it too.

Q. Happy 36th, Skip.

ALEX CORA: Thank you. Thank you for the "Skip."

Q. Just a thought on Fenway and you guys' last two wins have been walk-off and walk-off fashion. How does that play into what you like to do baseball-wise here at this park with home-field advantage?

ALEX CORA: It's Fenway Park, man. We feel very comfortable. That's the way you should feel, right, when you play at home. Like I said before, we've been really good lately. We've been really good I think the whole season. Especially with fans in the stands, and what they've done the last three games here, we appreciate that: The electricity, into every pitch, you know, I think even when their guys are warming up, I have seen videos. It's fun. It's the way it should be. It's the way it was in '03, '04, '07. It's a lot different. I'm not saying they weren't into it in 2018, but there is something about where we're at right now with everything that went on the last year and a half with the pandemic that I do believe it's making a difference. Not only here. I think in Tampa they were loud. In Houston they were loud too. It's just people going out there and having fun again.

You know, for a while there we were talking about lockdowns and curfews and everything that we had to do to keep moving forward, right, to put ourselves in this situation where we're at right now, and now they show up, and whatever they saved the last year and a half as far as being a fan, screaming, yelling, enjoy a baseball game, they're doing that, and we appreciate that.

Q. Can you do a comparison of where you were last year on your birthday and the emotions and everything that you went through, and now compare it to today and what you guys could accomplish this year.

ALEX CORA: Professionally it's a lot different, but personally, I mean, we had a great day last year. It was awesome. We had the same crew here. They were back home. That's something I always appreciate. Being around the family and having fun with them.

Obviously, professionally I was watching games on TV and just thinking about what was going to happen towards the end of that month, understanding that I only had, what, two more weeks or three weeks to see what the future was going to be. Honestly, thinking probably that I was going to join you in Bristol, probably doing something there, doing TV or whatever, but, obviously, a few weeks later things changed, and here I am.

But I wasn't even thinking about managing or whatever. I was just enjoying the family and being a baseball fan and watching.

Q. Is this maybe like then a pinching yourself moment?

ALEX CORA: Not really, honestly. Not really. I think for them to give me a chance to come back this is what we envisioned, but, like I said before, for us as a family, the Coras, and the Felicianos to be around and have air mattresses and cakes and rice and beans at midnight, you know, who cares about the diet? It's great. They're loving it, and I'm enjoying it.

I love the fact that they're having a blast watching this and cheering for the Red Sox.

Q. It was announced that David Ortiz is going to be inducted into the Dominican Sports Hall of Fame. Can you react to that it, and, obviously, you played with him. We know what he means as a player to the organization, but can you speak to what he still means to this community and this team?

ALEX CORA: David is bigger than life, man. I always said that he's a rock star -- he was a rock star playing baseball. The chains and the glasses and, I mean, he is David. Well, for me it's David. For you guys it's Big Papi.

But David means a lot to -- like I said a few days ago, like Pedro and David, what they mean to this community, not only Latino community, but everybody. It's amazing. I was watching him today doing something with Alex for FOX, and you look at him and you are, like, wow, I'm so proud of him because it wasn't only about baseball for him. It was about family and taking care of his teammates.

David is one of the best teammates I ever played with. That group was very special in '07. We created a great bond. Obviously, Mikey (Lowell) is number one. He is, like, my favorite teammate of all time, Mike Lowell. He is probably watching up there at MLB Network. So, Mikey, yeah. Sean Casey too. He is okay (laughter). But David, he was a game-changer. On a nightly basis you always thought that he was going to do something great, and he brought it every day and what he did here, you know, the way that they actually embrace him, it was eye-opening, still eye-opening, and we love the guy, I love the guy, and I'm glad he was inducted into the Dominican Hall of Fame.

Q. With Kiké, when you guys got him, you knew the player you were getting. You knew the versatility, the work ethic, but how he has carved out that role in center field. How have you seen his defensive instincts and raw acumen really blossom as the year as gone on.

ALEX CORA: He was our second baseman coming in. I still said -- I will say two things that I was wrong in Spring Training: Somebody asked me about who was better in center field, and I actually put him in left field for some reason. I'm, like, no, if we go that way, it's going to be Alex in center, Kiké in left. Something like that. Then I always said that if we had the lead, he was going to end up playing second base most of the time, but a lot of things happened. One of them was Christian Arroyo, right? He played great at second base, and we felt very comfortable with him.

And then the way he played center field, it is eye-opening. That first step is amazing. The instincts, the arm, the decisions, the communication. We can keep going on and on. We don't have time for this, but he is great, and we had one of the best defensively in '18 and '19, and he is still great. Jackie, right? This kid, he is up there with them, with the best of the best defensively, and we are very proud of him.

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