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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Alex Cora Reborn!


When the Red Sox decided to hire Alex Cora without having had a single day of experience as a Major League manager, it was mainly because of his proven knowledge of baseball and its potential to communicate and inspire players of diverse ages and backgrounds, but also because of his apparent ability to remain calm under pressure.

The Boston Red Sox's way of playing baseball in the new era of Alex Cora has been highlighted by the unwavering confidence the team has shown under pressure. That was put to the test immediately in his first week as a Red Sox manager, where Cora fulfilled the confidence placed in him by President Dave Dombrowski. "If you go on a bus from New York to Boston and you see a nervous driver, you get nervous, and if you see it calm? ... He knows what he is doing," explained jokingly Hanley Ramirez when approaching the imperturbable attitude demonstrated by Cora on this six-game road trip.

"He's calmer than we are!" said player Eduardo Núñez, according to what ESPN published. "That's very important, to keep calm and let us play calm and confident in us. That is the most important thing we need, that confidence," said receiver Christian Vázquez. "This is how we play calmly, and things will be better". In Major Leagues there is an adage that the leader should always be the most constant and balanced presence on the team. And Cora has been exactly that.

The first six matches of Cora as a leader in the Major Leagues began with a trial on Opening Day. There he managed a bullpen that saw a 4-0 lead vanish in the eighth inning of an eventual 6-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, which deserved wide criticism, including mentions of his lack of experience in dealing with a bullpen. Thereafter, Cora and the Red Sox responded with five straight wins, which included three closed games decided by a single Tampa Bay race and a 13-inning game against the Miami Marlins.

Thus, regardless of the way it has been achieved, the Red Sox come to their first game of the 2018 campaign in Fenway Park on Thursday with a 5-1 score and with a new leader who has consistently earned the appreciation and trust of his players. "He's always relaxed, walking side by side in the dugout, talking to everyone, and that's the right way to do things," explained David Price, the starter designated for Opening Day at Fenway Park.

The new Red Sox skipper explained to ESPN Digital that his greatest learning to develop his style as a manager came from his years in charge of the Criollos de Caguas in the Winter League of Puerto Rico. "I learned in Puerto Rico the leader who I did not want to be", said Cora. "I was quite strict, very demanding, it was not that I taught the emotions, because you always have to stay (calm), but I was very hard with them." When I finished (I) I said, 'You know what, the next opportunity for a leader can be in the big leagues and I do not want to be that leader. "And I've learned."