Alex Cora just received the boss’ stamp of approval.
Cora has done an excellent job in his first season as manager of the Boston Red Sox, guiding the team to a 75-34 record entering Thursday night’s game against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. The success certainly hasn’t been lost on Red Sox principal owner John Henry, who heaped a bunch of praise on the first-year skipper while assessing Boston’s remarkable 2018 campaign.
“Alex is very, very focused and so is this team and staff this year. He is aggressive yet doesn’t overreact or fail to think important issues through,” Henry wrote in response to an email from The Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham.
“All of us have been amazed at the presence and intuitive insights he has brought on a daily basis and we’ve also been amazed at how quickly he adjusted to what a major league manager has to deal with in real time during each game.
“The team’s focus shows up every single night. Nothing is taken for granted.”
The Red Sox won back-to-back American League East titles in 2016 and 2017 under former manager John Farrell, who also led Boston to a division crown and a World Series title in 2013. But the Sox have been bounced from the postseason in the American League Division Series in each of the last two seasons, convincing the organization’s front office that changes needed to be made to the coaching staff this past offseason.
So far, those changes have worked out perfectly, with Cora bringing a whole different approach to a Red Sox team that won 93 games in both 2016 and 2017 before exiting the playoffs with a whimper. Boston, which sits in first place in the AL East, now looks poised to make noise come October.
“If you remember during spring training I got frustrated initially with writers’ negativity that we hadn’t done much,” Henry wrote to Abraham in his first public comments on the team since spring training. “I pointed out how bad our approach was last year and how a clean sweep of staff was a major change. Alex and his staff have had a clear approach that is quite different from what we had before, different on a number of levels.
“The talent was there and we were able to win the division the last two years, but we weren’t nearly aggressive enough, except in running the bases where we were much too aggressive.”
Of course, the Red Sox’s regular season dominance, which has been historic to this point, won’t matter unless the club performs in the playoffs when the stakes are raised. That’s something Henry acknowledged in his chat with Abraham, which came a day before one of the Red Sox’s biggest series of the season.
“The best thing I can say about it is how much fun this team has been to watch,” Henry wrote.
Most Red Sox fans probably would agree with that sentiment.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images