Alex Cora reportedly got into a verbal altercation with former boss A.J. Hinch, the Houston Astros manager, and an Astros broadcaster in an incident that was unknown to the Boston Red Sox when they named Cora as their new manager on October 22 to replace the fired John Farrell.
This newly disclosed information would probably not be an issue, given the long MLB season and the close quarters involved, except that Cora was said to be hired by the BoSox in part because of his strong communication skills and his reputation as a positive and respected force in the clubhouse
Last season, the Red Sox clubhouse developed some issues, including the feud between pitcher David Price and NESN analyst Dennis Eckersley, although there was sufficient team chemistry to allow, among other accomplishments, the American League East winners to reel off 15 extra-inning victories in 2017.
According to NBC Sports Boston, the Cora-related turbulence was the result of the combined stress of Hurricane Harvey in Houston and Hurricane Irma in Puerto Rico, where Cora is from, and occurred after the Astros flew home to Houston for the first time following the storm.
“On Aug. 31…Cora cursed out Astros broadcaster Geoff Blum on a team bus heading from the airport to the stadium in Houston. When the bus arrived at the Astros’ Minute Maid Park, Cora went off again, screaming at his boss, Astros manager A.J. Hinch. Both expletive-filled episodes were visible to a large number of the Astros’ traveling party. The confrontations were described to NBC Sports Boston by multiple people with direct knowledge of them, including witnesses. Whether the lack of self-control Cora displayed proves a footnote to Cora’s coaching career or an omen entering his first managerial gig is to be seen.”
Alex Cora had also reportedly consumed some adult beverages around the time of the confrontation, which apparently got started because Blum, also an MLB veteran, asked Cora to lower the volume of the music on the bus.
Cora later apologized to both men and acknowledged that emotions were running high because of the twin disasters, although he apparently didn’t seem to comment on the incident specifically. The new Red Sox manager also implied that the outburst was a learning experience and actually made his relationship with Hinch stronger.
Dave Dombrowski, the team’s president of baseball operations, downplayed the Cora revelation, adding that he’s worked with other MLB managers who blew their cool from time to time.
Cora also told NBC Sports Boston that he will encourage Red Sox players to show emotion on the field, which he admitted was the opposite of the way he carried himself during his playing days.
WATCH: Alex Cora reportedly had a blow up with Astros' color analyst Geoff Blum and manager AJ Hinch on a team bus in August. Cora had been drinking at the time, dealing with emotions around Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. @ABC6 pic.twitter.com/NeUgZAwC7g
— Ian Steele (@IanSteeleABC6) December 5, 2017
Alex Cora played 14 years in the big leagues as a utility infielder. He spent four seasons with the Boston Red Sox, including being a member of the 2007 World Series championship squad. In addition to his gig as the bench coach of the 2017 World Champion Houston Astros who defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games in the Fall Classic, his extensive baseball resume includes four years as an ESPN baseball analyst and managing in Puerto Rico.
Former skipper John Farrell managed the Red Sox from 2013 (when he guided the team to the World Series title) to 2017. Although the Boston Red Sox won the American League East in 2016 and 2017 (after last place finishes in 2014 and 2015), they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs both years. The former highly regarded Sox pitching coach from 2007 to 2010, and then the Toronto Blue Jays manager for two years after that, Farrell gained the reputation as the Red Sox manager of being aloof from the players, and his in-game strategy, including pinch-hitting and bullpen decision-making, was often called into question.