It’s safe to say the Red Sox love their manager.
Alex Cora has been instrumental in Boston turning around its fortunes this season after a tumultuous 2020 campaign while the skipper was away from baseball serving a one-year suspension.
Several players have pointed to Cora’s impact in the wake of the Red Sox defeating the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Division Series, and pitcher Nathan Eovaldi joined the chorus Wednesday during an appearance on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show.”
“He’s always calm, cool and collected,” Eovaldi said, when asked why the Red Sox enjoy playing for Cora. “Starting back in spring training, we always talked about family. As players, we sacrifice a lot by not being with our personal families. So when we’re around each other, it has to be like a family. And he does a really good job of making us feel that way and everybody feeling well around each other. There’s really no groups at the field. We’re all one big, giant group, and we enjoy being around each other and being together. I think that goes to show the way he leads us.”
Cora’s style certainly works. The Red Sox won the World Series in his first season as the club’s skipper in 2018. And although they missed the postseason in 2019, his return to the dugout in 2021 has provided an obvious jolt, paving the way for Boston to punch its ticket to the AL Championship Series despite some ups and downs throughout the regular season.
“Again, going back to saying ‘calm, cool and collected,’ if we do start to struggle, he’s able to right the ship and get us back on track,” Eovaldi said. “It’s usually a simple fix. In the second game against the Rays (in the ALDS) when we were at their place and we had scored two (runs) and they answered back with five (runs), he was going up and down the dugout saying, ‘Hey, we need to score three more runs in eight innings. We’ve got this. There’s no pressure.’ And when you break it down that way, if we can’t score three runs in eight innings, especially with our offense, that’s going to be very surprising.
“As opposed to him saying nothing, or just standing down at the front of the dugout and just letting us come back in and try to do our thing, he sparked us and got us going again and we were able to keep chipping away, and we were able to come back and win that game.”
The Red Sox took down the Rays in four games in the ALDS, with their clinching victory coming Monday night on a walk-off sacrifice fly by Kiké Hernández. Boston now will face the Houston Astros — with whom Cora served as the hitting coach in 2017 — in the ALCS.
Eovaldi is expected to start Game 1 on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.