The storylines are plentiful entering the Boston Red Sox’s four-game series in Houston.
But at the forefront is manager Alex Cora’s return to Minute Maid Park for the first time since serving a suspension for the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scandal in November.
Does that add another layer of nerves to the series?
“No, not at all,” Cora on Monday told reporters in his pregame Zoom conference. “We’ve been here before. We came here in ’18 and nobody gave us a chance to win a playoff series here in Minute Maid and we swept them. We’ve been in this situation before, we’ve been here before, just another series.”
The situations were a little different, of course, because the scandal didn’t come to light until a November 2019 report from Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich.
Cora served a subsequent one-year suspension and rejoined the Red Sox ahead of the 2021 season. He’s grateful to the team for giving him a second chance, but you’d be safe to assume he may feel some type of way about how he was thrown under the bus by the Astros.
A reporter asked Cora if coming back to Houston brought up any fond memories from his one year as the Astros bench coach. He took the question in a different direction.
“I remember a grand slam with Jackie Bradley Jr., I remember the catch by (Andrew) Benintendi, I remember Jackie hit a home run off (Josh) James,” Cora said. “So there’s some good memories here too, as a Red Sox.”
Of course, he’s referring to Bradley’s grand slam in Game 3 and Benintendi’s game-saving catch in Game 4 of the 2018 American League Championship Series against the Astors.
The reporter followed up to see if that meant he didn’t look back kindly on his time in Houston. Allow Cora to elaborate.
“No, I mean, you asked me if I can come in here and have good memories? I have good memories,” Cora said, getting ready to double down. “You know, Jackie hit a grand slam. We won a playoff series here. We swept them, so that’s good memories. I got good friends around, some good stuff that we did in ’17. But right now as manager of the Red Sox, you know, this is what I remember. When we came here and we swept the Astros and we went to the World Series.”
One thing is for sure, a majority of Red Sox fans are happy to have Cora back.
Especially when he gives answers like that.