Man­ag­ing ex­pec­ta­tion

Af­ter Se­ries win with Astros, Cora can end their run

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

BOS­TON — Alex Cora led the Red Sox to a vic­tory over the hated Yan­kees. Next up for the first-year Red Sox man­ager: The team he left af­ter win­ning a World Se­ries as a bench coach last sea­son.

“I’ve been talk­ing about them the whole sea­son, so now we go,” he said af­ter the ALDS. “Best of seven. They know me. I know them. “It should be fun.” An in­fielder who spent 14 years with six big league teams, Cora was with the Astros for one year be­fore the Red Sox made him the first mi­nor­ity man­ager in fran­chise his­tory — and one of its youngest, too. His first sea­son is al­ready a suc­cess, with a fran­chis­ere­cord 108 vic­to­ries, a third con­sec­u­tive AL East ti­tle and the team’s first play­off se­ries win since 2013.

Now he has to do it again — against his former boss, A.J. Hinch.

In his first post­sea­son se­ries as a man­ager, Cora seemed to make all the right de­ci­sions, like start­ing Brock Holt in Game 3 and see­ing him hit for the only post­sea­son cy­cle in base­ball his­tory.

And then he put Holt back on the bench in Game 4 and watched Ian Kinsler come through with a key RBI dou­ble.

“We’re very for­tu­nate to have a guy in A.C., who isn’t very far re­moved from play­ing the game, which def­i­nitely helps,” Red Sox re­liever Matt Barnes said. “You have a guy who won the World Se­ries last year, so he knows what it takes to win a World Se­ries.

“It seemed like every but­ton he’s push­ing is the right one. I think he’s got a great feel for the game. He un­der­stands the game. He does a great job of man­ag­ing and com­mu­ni­cat­ing with ev­ery­body on what’s go­ing on, and I think it showed in this se­ries, and it will be awe­some mov­ing for­ward.”

Hinch said he is happy for his former as­sis­tant, who was a sound­ing board on strat­egy and prepa­ra­tion and took over when Hinch was ejected.

“(I’m) try­ing to re­mem­ber some things that I told him that I wish I wouldn’t have,” Hinch said Wed­nes­day when the Astros worked out for the first time since learn­ing their next op­po­nent.

“The bench coach and the man­ager are re­ally tight,” Hinch said. “He was ob­vi­ously right next to me every step of the way. As a bench coach, you’re kind of in­volved in ev­ery­thing (but) maybe mas­ter of noth­ing when it comes to not be­ing in charge.”

Hinch and Cora have main­tained a friend­ship through their year apart, even ex­chang­ing text mes­sages through the first round. That’s go­ing to stop. “He’s en­cour­aged me. I’ve en­cour­aged him,” Hinch said. “The ban­ter ... con­ver­sa­tions will prob­a­bly min­i­mize a lit­tle over the next cou­ple of days.”

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