The Boston Red Sox’s decision to hire Alex Cora as their new manager has Mike Lowell’s stamp of approval.
Lowell, who played alongside Cora in Boston for three seasons from 2006 to 2008, knew back then his teammate might have a future as a Major League Baseball manager. Cora was a part-time player, but Lowell, an All-Star for the Red Sox in 2007, noticed his good friend’s impact extended beyond the diamond and into the clubhouse, where Boston was loaded with high-profile superstars.
“I think his biggest attribute was not being an everyday player, but commanding the respect of almost any elite-type player,” Lowell recently told WEEI’s Rob Bradford on the “Bradfo Show” podcast. “On the road, I lifted weights in the mornings with him and Manny Ramirez, and the one guy that got on Manny’s case for showing up 10 minutes late in the lobby or not showing to workout was Alex. And Manny took to it.
“I think he kind of liked a guy could relate to his situation and get on him in the sense, ‘We aren’t going to win without you, Manny. We need you.’ I think he understood Manny’s personality was more that you had to put your arm around him and maybe someone else was the type you have to kick them in the butt a little bit. Guys react differently, and that’s where managing personalities are just as important as managing the X’s and O’s and what you do during the game.”
Cora, who last played in 2011 for the Washington Nationals, certainly is qualified for the job, having earned a reputation as one of baseball’s most respected up-and-coming managerial candidates. He’s worked in television, which should help him deal with the tough Boston media, and he’s currently drawing rave reviews as the Houston Astros’ bench coach.
But the best managers often have qualities that are difficult to quantify. And while Cora’s in-game managing could prove to be a strength, Lowell always has been impressed with the former infielder’s ability to connect with people.
“The fact that guys like David Ortiz, and Curt Schilling, and Josh (Beckett) and Manny were respectful and felt like they had to respect Alex because of the way he went about his business, I think speaks volumes of what he can do now as a manager,” Lowell told Bradford. “You can be the best X’s and O’s guy, but if your players don’t feel like the manager has their backs, that clubhouse can deteriorate quickly. In that sense, I think Alex is prepared for it.”
Cora is the 47th manager in Red Sox history. The club recently parted ways with John Farrell, who spent the last five seasons as Boston’s manager, earning three trips to the postseason and winning a World Series in 2013.
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