Alex Cora

Alex Cora thriving in role as winter league GM

AlexCora
CAGUAS, Puerto Rico - Thirty minutes before first pitch at Estadio Yldefonso Sola Morales, Alex Cora is working the rail at the home dugout on the third base side like it's a receiving line at a wedding reception. He stops and greets every player on Los Criollos de Caguas, shaking hands, slapping palms and offering encouragement. If not for the fact that he's in a short-sleeved plaid shirt with a backpack slung over his shoulder, you'd think the smiling 38-year-old was one of the players.

Two years after retiring following a 13-year major league career, and after spending the 2011 season as a reserve infielder with the Nationals, Cora has found another calling. In the twilight of his playing days, managers like Terry Francona and Jim Riggleman said Cora had the innate diamond smarts to make a good coach, perhaps even a major league skipper. But the ink had hardly dried on his retirement papers before Cora - who also acts as an in-studio analyst for ESPN's "Baseball Tonight" - accepted a job as the general manager of the Criollos in his hometown in Puerto Rico's central mountains, 30 miles south of San Juan.

The Criollos' former general manager was moving to a role with Liga de Beisbol Professional Roberto Clemente - the official name for Puerto Rico's winter baseball league - and team president Raul Rodriguez offered Cora the opportunity to move into the front office as the team's GM. Cora jumped at the chance and steered the Criollos to the league title as a rookie general manager. Now he's got his sights set on back-to-back crowns, something Caguas hasn't done in its storied 75-year history.

"It's not the normal path, I know. ... But I know a lot about the team. I have the pulse about that clubhouse, probably better than anybody," Cora says while sitting in the Plexiglass-enclosed team officials' box on the stadium's second level as a game against los Gigantes de Carolina gets under way. "For me, it was an easy transition and they made it a lot easier, the players, because they understand friendship is friendship and business is business. They respect me in that sense. You've seen me around - I'm hands-on because I enjoy it. I still feel it."

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(masnsports.com)
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Alex Cora Joins ESPN as MLB Analyst in Multiplatform Role

AlexCoraMets
Here's a release from ESPN announcing that former Boston Red Sox IF Alex Cora will be joining ESPN:

Former Major League Baseball player Alex Cora has joined ESPN and ESPN Deportes as an MLB analyst. Cora will provide insights and analysis for various platforms across both networks, including Baseball Tonight, Beisbol Esta Noche, SportsCenter and other studio programming. He will also contribute to ESPN Radio and ESPN Deportes Radio. 

“Television will be an exciting new challenge for me,” said Cora. “I look forward to joining ESPN’s deep bench of analysts to share my insights, experience and passion for baseball with fans and viewers on Baseball Tonight, Beisbol Esta Noche and across ESPN’s various platforms.”

Added Mike McQuade, vice president, production, “Alex is a tremendous acquisition for us. He is well-regarded across baseball as an astute student of the game and prospective manager. His unique combination of major league experience, thoughtful analysis and polished communication skills in two languages will strengthen our baseball coverage across several ESPN platforms.”

Cora, a Puerto Rican native, was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 1993 First-Year Player Draft but opted to play for the University of Miami, where he reached the College World Series three times. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1996 and made his major league debut on June 7, 1998.

After seven years with the club, Cora signed as a free agent with the Cleveland Indians in 2005. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox midway through the
season. He stayed with Boston for three seasons and won a World Series with the club in 2007. Throughout his 14-year career, he also spent time with the New York Mets, Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals. Cora was a solid defensive player (career .976 fielding percentage) and a versatile infielder with strong knowledge of the game and leadership skills.

Most recently, Cora lead Puerto Rico’s Caguas Criollos to the 2013 Caribbean Series in his first year as general manager of the club. Cora previously played for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic – both in 2006 and 2009.


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(beforeitsnews.com)
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Alex Cora: 'Very surprised' Sox Skipped Funeral

AlexCora
Former Red Sox infielder Alex Cora joined Kirk Minihane and Rob Bradford Thursday to express his surprise that only four Red Sox attended the funeral of Johnny Pesky on Monday. 

"I was very surprised," Cora said. "I think what Johnny means and meant to the players and the people in Boston, he was more than just a people person. Just walking into that clubhouse and seeing Johnny smile and greeting you in there and talking about baseball and life in general, he meant a lot, especially to a lot of people in there. I was very surprised to hear that only four players showed up to the funeral." 

The Red Sox had rented buses to take players and staff from Fenway to the church in Swampscott on Monday -- an off-day -- but the player turnout was limited to just David Ortiz, Clay Buchholz, Vicente Padilla and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Cora said that if he were on the team, he wouldn't have needed someone to tell him to attend the funeral because it would be obvious that he needed to go. 

"I don't think somebody has to say it," he said. "I think everybody understands what he means to the organization. There are certain things that go beyond an off day. This is a situation that nobody wanted, but it happened. As a person, you've got to put yourself not as a baseball player, but as a person. Your family understands that there's something big going on. … I understand that it's been a tough season, a lot of things have happened, but just a few hours of your day off to pay respects to Johnny, I don't think it's going to hurt anybody. 

"For me personally, if I was in that situation, there's a pretty good chance that nobody would have had to tell me, 'You have to go,'" Cora said. "You take matters into your own hands and do what is right, and that was the right thing to do."


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(weei.com)
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Alex Cora released by St Louis Cardinals

AlexCoraMets
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) - Alex Cora's briefcareer with St. Louis ended Sunday when the Cardinals released the utility infielder.

Cora hit .208 in 24 at-bats with one run, one RBI and no extra base hits. He had agreed Feb. 6 to a minor league contract that would have paid $800,000 if he had been added to the 40-man roster.

A 36-year-old who began his big league career with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1998, Cora hit .224 with seven extra-base hits in 172 plate appearances for Washington last year. He also has played for Cleveland, Boston, the New York Mets and Texas.

St. Louis released Cora despite injuries in the middle infield. Skip Schumaker, last year's starting second baseman will likely start the season on the disabled list with an oblique injury and could be headed to the outfield when he returns.

St. Louis also released catcher Koyie Hill.


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(ksdk.com)
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Coras enjoy opportunity to reunite in spring

AlexCoraMets
JUPITER, Fla. — At 36, Alex Cora [stats] isn’t sure how much time he has left in his playing career.

The Cardinals signed the utility infielder and former University of Miami shortstop last month really for one thing — to help mentor the team’s less-experienced infielders.

But if signing with the defending World Series champions in his 15th major-league season has provided Cora with anything of real value, it has been allowing him the chance to reunite with his older brother, Marlins bench coach Joey Cora.

With the Marlins and Cardinals sharing Roger Dean Stadium and its facilities, the Coras have been living together in Jupiter since arriving for spring training.

"It’s been great being able to sit down together and just have dinner," said Alex, who is 10 years younger than Joey, a former first-round pick out of Vanderbilt who made his major-league debut with the Padres in 1987 at age 22.

"Our father died in 1988. When you lose your dad when you’re a young kid, your big brother becomes everything for you. This is the most time we’ve been able to spend together since we were kids in (Caguas,) Puerto Rico. He doesn’t know how much it means to me. Hopefully, his dream of becoming a big-league manager will come true soon."

Every manager has a right-hand man. For Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, Joey Cora has been that guy.

Friends since their playing days when they were the double-play tandem for the White Sox from 1991 to ’94, Guillen gave Cora his first big-league coaching job in 2003 after a short stint as a manager in the Mets’ minor-league system.

Except for when Cora has been called away to interview for other managerial jobs with the Mariners (2008) and Brewers (2011), Guillen has always had him by his side to provide a calming effect for his own volatile personality .

"Great coach. Very organized. A great baseball man," Guillen said of Cora, his bench coach since 2006.

"Surprises me this kid is not managing in this level right now. Very, very surprised. Very disappointed. I think he has a lot of potential to be a pretty good manager. Maybe I’ve hurt him. Maybe they say ’We don’t want to hire somebody like Ozzie.’

"But, he’s my right-hand man for a reason. When you have a guy like Joey Cora, it makes the manager’s job very easy. I don’t have (stuff) to worry about. He’s a good one. The day he’s a manager I’ll be very proud, very happy. But I’ll also be very sad."

Cora handles a lot of duties for Guillen. He coordinates spring training and "takes care of all the little things," so the manager can concentrate on evaluation. When Guillen wants to see a hitter face a right-hander or a left-hander, Cora said, "my job is to try and accommodate that."

"During the season, it’s a matter of getting all the information we have and trying to present it to him as simple as possible so he can make a decision as easy as possible," Cora said. "I’ll break down the matchups, give him on-base percentage, all kinds of stats so he can make the best decision possible."

As passionate as Guillen is about the game, he said Cora "might love it even more."

"What I remember of Joey when I was in middle school was his work ethic. He never rested," Alex Cora said. "He was running early, taking ground balls, hitting. He would carry his pitching machine with him in the trunk of his car everywhere he went so he could put it up and get batting in when he needed it. He worked on his craft.

"As a player, he maximized everything he had. He was 5-7, 100-whatever pounds and became an All-Star in Seattle. As a baseball player, it was amazing to see him work. As a coach, it’s the same thing. That camp the Marlins are running? He had that set up in December. He’s very passionate about work."

Alex Cora said his brother learned that from their father, who served as a scout in Puerto Rico and also started their neighborhood’s Little League chapter in 1969.

"What we learned from him is you have to be passionate about whatever you do and I think Joey is a perfect example of that," Alex Cora [stats] said.

"I think people around baseball know how important he is for Ozzie and Ozzie is for him. He gets the respect. It was tough last year with everything that happened (in Chicago) and the way it ended (Cora received a text message from White Sox management telling him he had been fired). But everything happens for a reason and he’s at home now. He lives down there in Miami and can see his two kids every day while he enjoys his passion."

And what Joey Cora is passionate about now is winning another ring.

"We’ve got a pretty good team here," he said. "All we want to do is win."


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(bostonherald.com)
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Alex Cora eyes reserve role, mentoring youngsters

AlexCora
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The past two days provide all the information needed to understand who Alex Cora is.

On Wednesday, he made his first career start of any sort at first base. On Thursday, he was starting at the other corner. While taking ground balls there during batting practice, the veteran infielder was chatting up prospect Ryan Jackson before moving over to get some work in at second base as well.

After spending several years early in his career as an everyday infielder, Cora has been able to remain a Major Leaguer for 14 seasons thanks largely to his versatility, as well as what appears to be his natural leadership skills. He came to the Cardinals on a Minor League deal with the hopes of bringing those qualities to the defending World Series champions and extending his career just a little bit longer.

"[Manager] Mike [Matheny] picked a great day yesterday with like 20 lefties in the lineup," Cora joked about his start at first. "In the situation I'm in, I'll take whatever comes my way. I'm not going to make excuses. It's a learning process. I'm 36 years old, and every time I come here, I learn something new. If I have to learn how to play first base, I'll do it.

"It's just a matter of repetition. I've done it before, but it was always, like, in an emergency. People think it's an easy position. I was talking to Lance Berkman about it yesterday. There are some ins and outs of the position."

"That's going to be a part of his game," Matheny said. "I thought he looked good over there. I think he can play anywhere on the infield and stand out as a solid defender. A guy that's been around for [14 years] in the big leagues has a pretty good understanding of what he needs to do there even though he hasn't had the starts. We've been talking since Day 1 about having versatility and flexibility, and a guy like that certainly can do that."

Cora has played in 13 regular-season games at first base, but only a handful of innings. Cora has played all over the infield over the course of his career, and he will continue to do so assuming he earns a spot on St. Louis' 25-man roster. Ironically, the position he's played with less frequency in recent years is the one he played every day for the Dodgers: shortstop. Cora is the first to recognize that's one question about his game he needs to answer to stick around, that he can still play the premium position when called upon.

Other players in his position, nearing the end of a robust career and working to win a roster spot, might take a more me-first approach to Spring Training. Yet Cora has been tireless in his efforts to mentor young infielders like Jackson throughout the spring. It's a pay-it-forward attitude that is very much appreciated by the mentees.

"It always means a lot when you have a guy who's had a lot of years in the big leagues and has played a lot of positions," Jackson said. "He's been there and done it. It's a really reliable source in terms of giving you information."

For Cora, it's just what's done. When he first got to Los Angeles, there were veterans like Jeff Reboulet, Dave Hansen and Kevin Elster, who took him under their wings. And of course there's his brother, Joey, a former All-Star and now the bench coach for the Marlins, who was a shining example of how to conduct business on the field from an early age.

Once Cora stopped being an everyday guy, when he got to Cleveland in 2005, he understood immediately that it was his time to take on that veteran role. Jhonny Peralta was Cora's first student. Then there was that undersized middle infielder with the Red Sox who took over at second base in 2007, followed by keeping an eye on Jose Reyes (and filling in for him quite a bit when he was hurt) in New York in 2009.

It was never a question of worrying about the student outstripping the teacher. It's what the previous generation had done for him, and there was never any doubt about whether he would follow suit when the time came.

"I learned from them, and that's what I do, too," Cora said. "I'm a part of this organization, and for us to be better, anything I can do to help those kids out, I'll do it."

Having a coach on the field like Cora is a good thing for any manager, and perhaps an even bigger bonus for a rookie skipper like Matheny. In the short time they've been together this spring, Matheny already sees a future path for the veteran, one Cora's older brother has already taken.

"That's Alex's makeup," Matheny said. "I know it's something our veterans have a desire to do, to help out our younger players and figure out how they can pass on some of the things they know. You can see he's wired, he can be in this game for a long time instructing and teaching if he desires to do so once he's done."

Cora appreciates the kind words, but he doesn't want to dwell on his coaching bona fides just yet. Perhaps it's something that will come down the road, but it's clear he's not ready to talk about career changes just yet.

"I appreciate that, but the less I talk about [coaching], the better it is for Alex, the player," Cora said. "I take it as a compliment, but I really don't want to cross that line yet. I still want to play baseball. I still feel I can contribute."


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(mlb.com)
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Alex Cora eager to contribute to Cardinals

AlexCoraMets
JUPITER, Fla. -- After making just four starts during the second half of the 2011 season, Alex Cora found himself entertaining few offers this offseason. However, the 36-year-old said on Tuesday, after completing his first workout in Cardinals camp, that he never did prepare for the possibility of retiring.

Instead, Cora is now preparing for a six-week battle to earn a spot on his seventh different Major League roster. Invited to camp under a Minor League deal, Cora will be considered for a utility infield role.

"At this level, I'm going to play until someone says, 'No,'" Cora said. "I'm healthy, and I'm in a good situation where I think I can help this team win."
Last year, Cora had little opportunity to prove that, in his 14th big league season, he could still be a valuable infielder at this level. He got some starts at third with Washington early in the year when Ryan Zimmerman missed time with a left abdominal strain. Third base had actually been a fairly unfamiliar spot for Cora before that point.

He's made 616 Major League appearances at short and another 530 at second. Thirty-one of his 48 career third-base appearances came in 2011, and Cora has played another 13 games at first. He remains most comfortable at short, the position he played most regularly after being drafted in 1996.

How Cora fits on this club could hinge on what happens in the second-base competition between Daniel Descalso, Skip Schumaker and Tyler Greene. The two who do not win the starting job would likely remain on the roster as backup infielders, though Schumaker could also serve as a backup outfielder. If outfielder Allen Craig is also healthy, that would leave manager Mike Matheny with just one additional open bench spot to fill.
"Organizations look for players that have a lot of gloves in their locker, but at the same time are good players," Cora said. "I don't think I have to prove myself. I just think I have to come here and earn my spot. Everybody knows what I can do."


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(mlb.com)
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Cards sign veteran infielder Alex Cora

AlexCora
ST. LOUIS, Mo. - The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have agreed to terms with veteran infielder Alex Cora on a minor league contract for the upcoming 2012 season. The deal includes a non-roster invite to the Cardinals Major League Spring Training camp.

Cora, 36, is a veteran of 12-plus seasons in the majors with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland, Boston, the New York Mets, Texas and Washington.

The left-handed hitting Cora has compiled a career batting mark of .243 with 35 home runs, 286 RBI and 47 stolen bases in 1,273 games played. He appeared in 91 games for the Nationals last season, making appearances at all four infield positions, including 16 starts at third base. Cora has played the majority of his career at the middle infield positions, making 616 career appearances at shortstop and 530 at second base.

A native of Caguas, Puerto Rico, Cora played for Team Puerto Rico and its manager Jose Oquendo during the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Cora was a member of the World Champion Boston Red Sox in 2007.

The Cardinals will open their 2012 Spring Training camp on February 18 with reporting date for pitchers and catchers and their first workout is set for the following day. The team currently has 39 roster players and 20 non-roster invitees set to report.


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(mlb.com)
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Cards close to signing Alex Cora to minor league contract

AlexCoraMets
The Cardinals are close to signing Alex Cora to a minor league contract reports MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez. The team didn't confirm that a deal was close. Cora is a Scott Boras client.

Earlier this month we learned that the 36-year-old infielder intended to play in 2012, though he was drawing interest as a coach. Cora hit just .224/.287/.276 in 172 plate appearances with the Nationals last season while playing all four infield spots.


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(mlbtraderumors.com)
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Alex Cora intends to play in MLB in '12

AlexCoraMets
Updating a previous item, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that Alex Cora intends to play in MLB this season.

Reports from Puerto Rico indicated that Cora was ready to call it a career, but it turns out that he was merely announcing his retirement from winter ball play. The 36-year-old batted infielder just .224/.287/.276 over 172 plate appearances with the Nationals last season, so we wouldn't be surprised if a lack of interest ultimately pushes him into the coaching profession.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Alex Cora announces retirement

AlexCoraMets
Former Nationals utility infielder Alex Cora played winter ball and was the Captain of the Caguas Criollos of Puerto Rico. After the Criollos final game of the season tonight, he announced his retirement from baseball.

Alex Cora, 36, was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the third round of the 1996 draft. Cora has played all over the infield for seven MLB teams: Dodgers, Blue Jays, Indians, Red Sox, Mets, Rangers and Nationals Maybe he’ll follow in his big brother Joey’s footsteps and coach.

From the Criollos de Caguas Facebook Page:

MENSAJE DE NUESTRO CAPITAN ALEX CORA ANUNCIANDO SU RETIRO: Gracias a todos ustedes por el apoyo que me dieron por 16 temporadas. Gozamos y sufrimos, ganamos y perdimos pero de corazón les digo que ser Criollo es lo mejor que hay. Hoy cierro un capítulo de mi carrera y del fondo de mi corazón les digo que lo hago con la frente en alto porque soy y siempre seré Criollo de pura cepa! Gracias a todos.
(Translated by Bing):

MESSAGE from our captain ALEX CORA announcing his retirement: thank you all for the support they gave me for 16 seasons. We enjoy and we suffer, we won and we lost but heart I can tell you that being Creole is the best there is. Now close a chapter in my career and in the bottom of my heart I say that I do with the high front because I am and always will be pure strain Creole! Thank you all.


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(districtsportspages.com)
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