MLB Network profiles Cora for documentary

February 11th, 2019

BOSTON -- In a matter of days, Red Sox manager Alex Cora will be back on the field in pursuit of that repeat championship he keeps talking about.

But earlier this winter, Cora allowed some time for reflection as the centerpiece of an MLB Network exclusive program that will air on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET.

The title of the latest installment of "MLB Network Presents" says it all: Alex Cora, the Making of a Champion.

The interview of Cora was conducted by Tom Verducci and took place in a suite behind home plate at Fenway Park.

Cora was candid throughout, and it was noteworthy how honest he was about where his mind was going in the late innings in the clinching Game 5 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium.

At what point in the game did Cora's mind start to flash to all those who helped him reach the pinnacle?

"Fifth inning, sixth inning, seventh inning. When we played in L.A., that's where I grew up, so I knew where the family section is," Cora said. "Throughout the game, I kept looking up there to see my kids, see my family up there. There were a lot of thoughts. I thought about [my brother] Joey, thought about Puerto Rico, what it means. I thought about my dad. For how close it was for a while, I was able to step back and think about things I probably shouldn't be thinking of that game, but I did actually."

Cora opened up a few times in the film about his late father, Jose Manuel, who died when Alex was 13.

"I was lucky to have him for 13 years. He taught me a lot. I was proud," Alex said. "He had a presence. Very strict. School first, sports second."

And it was made clear that after Jose's passing, Joey, as the older brother, took on more of a fatherly role.

When Alex Cora got homesick early in his time at the University of Miami and went back to Puerto Rico, Joey demanded in no uncertain terms that Alex get back to school.

After Cora won the World Series with the Red Sox in 2007, he found a quiet place at Coors Field and cried for 10 minutes because his father wasn't there.

The film also features Cora talking about how invaluable his one-year experience as bench coach with the Astros was. And he got quite a bit of appreciation from Houston manager AJ Hinch.

"I don't know if I've ever been around someone with a better baseball mind than Alex Cora," Hinch said.

Of course, Cora is at his best in the special discussing the inner workings of the 2018 Red Sox.

What was his favorite strategy move from the postseason?

" sitting in Game 1 [of the World Series] against [Clayton] Kershaw," Cora said. "Eduardo had played against every lefty during the season. I didn't want to have all the righties playing. We needed to create balance. For some reason, he was probably the last guy to show up to the clubhouse that day. He walks in, I say, 'Eddie, here's what's going to happen, we're playing [Rafael] Devers against Kerhaw.' As soon as they bring in a lefty, you're coming in. He said, 'I'm ready. I got you, Papi.'"

Naturally, Nunez smashed a pinch-hit three-run homer that led the Red Sox to victory.

Cora helped set the foundation for the success the Red Sox would have long before October. In fact, a big day was Jan. 4, 2018, when he met with in Boston.

"I met with Mookie Jan. 4," Cora said. "And I told him, 'I want you to be aggressive. You're going to lead off from Spring Training all the way until November. And by the way, we're going to play Tampa Bay and is going to throw you a four-seamer and I want you to swing at it and swing hard and hit it out of the ballpark.'"

Betts swung hard and crushed it, but made a great catch against the wall. It didn't matter though. It became clear to Cora that Betts had bought in.

To get in the best position to win again in 2019, Cora told Verducci he plans on picking the brain of Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

"I just want to ask him what changes. Something has to change," Cora said. "Because if you don't change a few things, it's going to be hard to do it."