BOSTON (AP) — Alex Cora brought a new voice and culture to the Boston Red Sox that helped propel them to their latest World Series title.
The Red Sox rewarded him for bringing home a championship in his first year with the team by giving him a new contract with an additional guaranteed year through the 2021 season.
The deal containing the extension was announced Wednesday by Boston also includes a club option for 2022.
In his rookie season as a major league manager, Cora guided the Red Sox to a franchise-record 108 victories and the team’s fourth championship in 15 seasons.
He finished second in the AL Manager of the Year voting announced Tuesday.
“We have consistently been impressed by Alex at every turn,” Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said in a statement. “His knowledge of the game, ability to connect with our players, and his incredible instincts and decisiveness led us to an historic championship season. We know we are in good hands and could not be more pleased to know he will be with us for the foreseeable future.”
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was in search of new direction for the club when he fired former manager John Farrell after back-to-back Al Division Series losses in 2016 and 2017.
After the historic regular season, Cora then steered Boston past the 100-win Yankees and Astros in the AL playoffs before downing the Dodgers in the World Series.
“For me, 2018 was not only historic, but it was special as well, both on and off the field,” Cora said in a statement. “We have a great appreciation for our accomplishments this past year, but now our focus moves forward to the season ahead and defending our World Series title.”
During Boston’s run Cora got the best out his young talent, led by AL MVP favorite Mookie Betts. They shined in player-centric approach in which Cora encouraged an aggressive hitting mentality, lots of hit-and-runs and active running of the bases.
Cora also the most out of his pitching staff, which included clutch performances in the postseason by Chris Sale and David Price. Neither pitcher had logged a playoff victory as a starter prior to this season.
Price had a tough time acclimating to Boston’s rugged sports environment during his first two seasons of the seven-year, $217 million deal he signed in 2015.
He’s found a groove late in the season, pitching the clinching Game 5 of the ALCS to help the Red Sox advance.
“Just his demeanor. It doesn’t change,” Price said last month. “I know it’s easy to not change when your team wins 108 games in the regular season. But he hasn’t changed one bit.”
A member of the Red Sox’s 2007 World Series title team as a player, Cora was the bench coach on Houston’s 2017 championship team. He learned from manager A.J. Hinch that being close to players would be beneficial.
“Talking to players is not bad, having a relationship with players is not bad,” Cora said in describing his managerial philosophy. “Doing that, you’re going to get the best out of them. People may think that crossing that line is not helpful, but I see it the other way around, and I lived it.”
Cora became the first manager from Puerto to guide a team to a championship. It came more than a year after Hurricane Maria devastated island, prompting Cora during initial contract negotiations last October to ask the Red Sox to help his people with relief efforts. Ownership responded by sending a chartered plane full of supplies.
Days after winning the World Series, they again obliged Cora’s request to take the trophy to his hometown of Caguas, Puerto Rico.
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