Alex Cora’s departure from the Boston Red Sox was shocking as it was sudden, and it has left the club scrambling to find a new skipper one month before spring training.

The loss of Cora, who mutually parted ways with the organization after being exposed for his role in the Houston Astros’ 2017 cheating scandal, also is taking quite a toll on the Red Sox players, with whom he became very close over the course of two seasons.

From a distance, Cora’s relationship with shortstop Xander Bogaerts seemed to be as close as any other player on the team. That suspicion was confirmed Thursday night when Bogaerts spoke glowingly about his time with Cora. But the show must go on, and the Red Sox are now in an accelerated search to find Cora’s successor. As for what Bogaerts wants to see in a new boss, it’s pretty simple.

“Someone like (Cora),” Bogaerts told reporters Thursday night, per The Boston Globe. “The first year he came here, he won. Everything seemed so easy. Last year we had some rough stretches, but we still ended the season over .500. Obviously, that’s not where we wanted to be. He did a great job with us. It’s not easy managing 25 guys and keeping them on the same page, and not like letting that clubhouse break apart.”

Red Sox ownership and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom obviously have their own checklist to fulfill in their next managerial hire. At or near the top of the list should be finding someone who can relate to young players the way Cora was able to over the course of two years. It was under Cora that a player like Bogaerts blossomed, going from a young shortstop with plenty of potential to one of the best players in the game at his position. Cora also seemed to always know the right buttons to push with phenom third baseman Rafael Devers, who ended the 2019 season on a track that could see him ascend to the highest level of superstar within the next couple of years.

Finding someone who can somehow take that baton from Cora without skipping much of a beat won’t be easy, but it’s crucial if the Red Sox hope to maximize the prime of their young core headlined by players like Bogaerts.

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