June 22, 2024

On 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 retning 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 traded.

A few players spoke on the calls, but it was mostly Cora with a clear, consistent message: The outside predictions for the club might be bleak, but he was serious about changing things in 2024.

Be ready for a different kind of spring training.

It was a noticeable departure from previous winters.

“I’ve never had that many Zoom calls in the offseason,” Nick Pivetta said. “But I think it’s important, it makes every individual feel that they’re part of something.Alex Cora Allegedly Told Red Sox Players That Astros ‘Stole’ 2017 World Series

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora is apparently bad at keeping secrets.

after he took over as Red Sox skipper in 2018, Cora allegedly bragged about the sign-stealing scandal that helped the Houston Astros win the 2017 World Series.

“We stole that (expletive) World Series,” Cora is alleged to have said.

One member of the Red Sox coaching staff told Drellich they knew the Astros stole signs “because Alex Cora told us.”

“‘We already knew what everybody was throwing before we even got on base,'” the staffer said Cora would tell them. “‘We didn’t have to get on base.’ And everybody was like, ‘What the hell does that

“It was pretty much AC just checking in on the group and kind of keeping everybody on the same page, setting the tone for coming into the spring,” said Trevor Story.

“It was a very candid, open conversation,” Garrett Whitlock added.

Each of the last two seasons, the Red Sox were within three games of a playoff spot at the trade deadline, before falling off the map in the second half.

Sure they could have used a few outside reinforcements that never came, but regardless, Cora felt responsible.

“It’s not that we stopped competing, but we got our asses kicked, and at this level you have to play well over 162,” Cora said, sitting at a table outside the Red Sox clubhouse one afternoon early in spring training.

“There’s a level of expectation, not only from the organization, but from the fan base, and they deserve better baseball. Did I take it personal? Yeah. It’s my team.

It’s been my team since 2018. And if people are going to praise me for what we did in 2018 or in 2021, well, at the same time, I got to be better when we’re not on top of the division or playing in October.”

The Zoom calls served as a reminder that competition would be at the forefront from day one; there would be no easing into the camp. If they wanted a chance to compete this season,

they had to show it from the get-go.

A culture change within the organization was in the works.

But culture is such a nebulous term. What does it mean to instill a new culture? And more importantly, how?

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