The Boston Red Sox won 93 games and captured the American League East title in both 2016 and 2017. And yet, the franchise felt the team needed a change of voice after the Sox were eliminated in the AL Division Series in each of the past two seasons.
Enter: Alex Cora.
Boston’s first-year manager piloted the Red Sox to a franchise-best 108 wins and has them two wins away from the World Series. Along with the addition of slugger J.D. Martinez, the Red Sox got an MVP-caliber season from Mookie Betts, as well as important contributions from Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi.
Bradley has been Boston’s best hitter through the first three games of the Sox’s AL Championship Series battle with the Houston Astros. The center fielder ripped what turned out to be a game-winning double in the third inning of Game 2, and he launched a grand slam to put Game 3 away Tuesday.
The Red Sox’s young players seemed to have a different energy all season, and that starts with Cora, who told reporters Tuesday prior to Game 3 that one of his early missions was getting the Red Sox to show more emotion and have more fun. He divulged a key meeting he had in spring training with Betts, Boagerts and Bradley to encourage them to “play the part.”
“It was in spring training, spring training. It was actually Xander, Jackie and Mookie,” Cora said, via ASAP Sports transcripts. “And what I told them is, ‘you guys are very threatened and this is how people see you from the opposition.’ I told them all their attributes. So I said, ‘man, play the part.'”
Cora thinks it has worked so far.
“Like, ‘hey, man, you guys are good. You should play the part.’ And I think we show emotion. They’ve got that thing, whatever they do when they hit doubles, that hip thing.”
The “hip thing” Cora refers to is the Red Sox’s celebration they do after collecting a big hit.
Cora and the Red Sox hope for a lot more hip-shaking fun Wednesday night in Game 4.
Thumbnail photo via Jim Young/USA TODAY Sports Images