June 25, 2024

n the final day of last season in Baltimore, Red Sox manager Alex Cora sat on the bench in the visitors dugout at Camden Yards — his team on its way to a second consecutive last place finish — and offered candid introspection. He’d recently learned he’d be returning as manager in 2024 despite a front office change, but he realized what he’d done in the past wasn’t enough.

“I have to be better,” he said on Oct. 1. “I have to improve. The vote of confidence is great but what are we doing, what am I doing to put these guys in a situation to be successful? I’ve got to be realistic. I feel like I haven’t done my job the last few years. I have to improve in a lot of things.”

Cora began sowing the seeds of change over the offseason.

One of the early steps was simple: A series of Zoom calls to maintain a connection with his team throughout the winter. Cora hosted calls with his players once a month — just the manager, his pitchers and position players, no coaches or front office members. The calls lasted roughly 20 minutes, aimed at keeping the group unified amid a winter of turnover and departures, not only in the front office, but on the roster and coaching staff. Justin Turner, a clubhouse leader, was gone. Chris Sale, a veteran voice on the pitching staff, had been

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