Alex Cora has seen Rafael Devers grow up with the Boston Red Sox, from a 21-year-old contributor on a World Series championship team to the star of the ballclub entering his age-27 season.

Years later, Devers is the face of the franchise, though Cora knows his star never likes that identity.

After Devers gave an open analysis of his state of the Red Sox on Tuesday, his manager embraced his willingness to express his feelings on a public level while speaking about his starting third baseman.

“We had conversations with him before,” Cora told reporters on Tuesday in Ft. Myers, per team-provided video. “He likes the core. The age group is his group, right? He understands where we’re at. He’s just got to perform. He had a good season last year. He knows he has to work on a few things for us to be better. I like the fact that he sat here and talked about it. He’s not a kid anymore.”

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Given that Cora has been with Devers in every full season he has played, the Boston manager reflected on a gradual growth process in finding comfort in who he is within the Red Sox organization. While he may have started as a youthful contributor with positive energy, Devers is now an essential voice around the Red Sox.

“He is (more comfortable),” Cora explained. “You can tell, in the clubhouse and in the meetings, the way he expresses what he wants and how he sees himself and what he needs to do to get better. It’s been good. … He’s growing to be more comfortable with who he is. and what he means to the organization and what he wants.”

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Cora added: “Raffy has become a guy in the clubhouse for more than two years. Even when J.D. (Martinez) and Xander (Bogaerts) were here, he was very vocal about a few things. In meetings, he has a pretty good idea of what we need to do as an offense to get better or attack whoever that day.”

Beyond the diamond, Cora embraced his relationship with Devers on a personal level, whether it be the infielder approaching Cora in his office or his manager seeking him out to check-in. Cora noted the value of checking on each other’s families and being there for each other at the foundation of a “great relationship.”

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With goals to improve his defensive regression from a season ago and build on a Silver Slugger campaign at the plate, Devers is primed for another productive season.

As Devers’ extension kicks into gear, the Red Sox will follow their slugger into another season.

Featured image via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images