The Boston Red Sox hired Houston Astros bench coach Alex Cora to be their new manager on Sunday, turning to a player from their 2007 World Series championship roster to help the team out of its current playoff slump.
The Red Sox announced the hire on Sunday, a day after Cora's Astros eliminated the New York Yankees in the AL Championship Series. With two days off before Houston opens the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston had a chance to hire Cora without running afoul of baseball's ban on major moves during the Series.
Cora replaces John Farrell, who led the Red Sox to the 2013 title and in the last two years claimed the first back-to-back AL East championships in franchise history. But Boston also finished last twice in Farrell's tenure, and the ballclub has won just one playoff game since winning it all in his first season.
A native of Puerto Rico, Cora is the first Hispanic manager in for a franchise that was the last in the major leagues to field a black player. The Red Sox faced renewed racial scrutiny this season after Orioles outfielder Adam Jones reported being subjected to racial slurs at Fenway Park.
A day later, a fan was banned from the ballpark for life for using racial slurs in the stands. Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said at the time the episode made him feel "deep remorse that these things happen in our society.
"But it's the reality of the world that we live in," he said. "Hopefully, this is a step forward."
Cora, who has never managed before, played 14 years in the major leagues before retiring in 2011, including parts of four seasons with the Red Sox. He was a lifetime .243 hitter with 35 homers and 286 RBIs. In 2003, he led the league in putouts and double plays by a second baseman.
"Alex is a guy that communicates well with the players; he's a guy that studies the game," Astros designated hitter Carlos Beltran said this month. "His preparation is above what I have seen in baseball, and he has a great personality.
"He's intense — players like to see it. But at the same time, he is a guy that can sit down in the clubhouse with the players and have a baseball conversation," Beltran said. "So he's got the skills and I love it. He's been a big help for this organization. He takes a lot of pride into relationships with the players."
Mets reportedly set to hire Mickey Callaway
It appears the New York Mets have settled on their choice for a manager. Several media outlets are reporting the team has offered the job to Cleveland Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway. The New York Post was the first to report the Mets were in talks with Callaway, saying a deal is being finalized.
When contacted Sunday, multiple Mets officials declined to comment.
With his contract set to expire, Terry Collins stepped down at the end of the season after seven years as Mets manager and accepted a position as a special assistant to general manager Sandy Alderson.
The 42-year-old Callaway has been Cleveland's pitching coach for the past five seasons under highly successful manager Terry Francona. Led by ace right-hander Corey Kluber, the Indians led the major leagues with a 3.30 ERA this season, one year after reaching the World Series.