Red Sox manager Alex Cora was proud to wear Number 42 on his mask for Jackie Robinson Day on Thursday, and even prouder to wear it once again on the back of his uniform.
Raised as a Dodger, Cora became fully immersed in all Robinson did as a trend-setter and the heroic way in which he did it.
“When I was with the Dodgers, I still remember, me and Sharon [Robinson], we did something for some kids early on during the day [on Jackie Robinson Day],” said Cora. “I think Dave Roberts was involved, and it’s very special.”
“Growing up in the Dodger organization, they not only talk about the history of the game, but they teach you a lot of things, and just thinking about what Jackie not only did as a player, he was amazing as an athlete, unreal, but having the burden and the weight of all the people on his shoulders and to perform, not only on the field but off the field is amazing. It’s unreal.”
As a proud Puerto Rican, Cora unsurprisingly idolizes legendary player and humanitarian Roberto Clemente. But he understands that Robinson was the one who broke the barriers for all minorities in baseball.
“As a Latino, yeah, you guys know how we feel about Roberto Clemente,” said Cora. “We don’t have a Roberto Clemente without Jackie Robinson. That’s it. I’m not a big league manager or a big league player without Jackie Robinson. I’m very fortunate to know his family, and it’s a special day.”
After trading Mookie Betts and David Price and losing Jackie Bradley Jr. to free agency, Cora is fully aware there are no Black players on the current Red Sox roster. But he sees a broad mix of cultures, and hopes that the amount of African Americans in MLB will increase in the coming years.
“I mean, obviously it’s not a great look, right, in the eyes of people, but at the end, you know, roster-wise, is not about white, Asian, Puerto Rican, Dominican. This is the roster we have,” Cora said. “We are very multicultural. I’m very proud of that. Obviously, I don’t want to say as an organization but as an industry, we have to do better, of course, to be more multiracial if you want to call it that. We know that.
“We’ve seen it. That’s why the guys got together and they have The [Players Alliance]. They want to talk about it. They want to get baseball to the inner cities. We want to do a better job. I think we are on the right path. It’s not going to happen just like that, but I think with time, this is going to be better.”
Offense reminds Hyers of ‘18
Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers loves not just what he sees on the field from his offense these days, but what he hears in the meetings.
“It reminds me of the ’18 team a lot. They just kind of came together. Guys who are not afraid to talk hitting and not afraid to share opinions on how they feel in the batter’s box and what they’re trying to do to accomplish their goals,” said Hyers. “It started in Spring Training. It’s a group that has a lot of depth and a lot of experience. We have some guys who recently played deep into the playoffs, so I think a lot of our young guys like to hear those stories and hear how they attack pitchers.
“So when you have that, when you have a group of guys talking, they’re engaged and they’re passionate about what they do. That’s a recipe for good things to happen, in my opinion.”
Restful getaway day for J.D.
J.D. Martinez, who went 0-for-9 in the first three games of the Twins’ series after his torrid start to the season, got a rest for Thursday’s getaway game. Marwin Gonzalez also got a breather.
Franchy Cordero stepped in as the DH.
The Red Sox have an upcoming four-game series against the White Sox at Fenway Park with four different start times. They play at 7:10 on Friday, 4:05 on Saturday, 1:10 on Sunday and 11:10 a.m. ET for the annual Patriots’ Day game on Monday.
“Yeah, stay away from [Martinez] and Marwin today,” said Cora. “It’s going to be a tough weekend as far as the times. We love the weekend but it’s a tough schedule so we’ll take care of some players over the course of it.”