Cora enjoying time as GM for Puerto Rican team
HERMOSILLO, Mexico -- For a good portion of his 14-year career, Alex Cora's future as a Major League coach or manager had been considered a foregone conclusion.
But he's really starting to like this whole general manager thing.
"This experience may have made me change my mind," said Cora, the former infielder who's serving as a first-year GM for Puerto Rico's Criollos de Caguas in the Caribbean Series.
"A lot of people saw me more on the field, either as a coach or as a manager or whatever. But honestly -- and it's not because I don't think it'll go well [as a coach] -- there's just something about putting together a team, about planning a roster from Day 1, and continuing to build it and watch it grow that I really like."
Cora said he's already been contacted by a couple of Major League organizations about serving in some coaching capacity, but has had to turn those opportunities down. That, however, has more to do with his 9-year-old daughter, Camila, whom he wants to spend the majority of the summer with in Puerto Rico.
Cora, who last played for the Nationals in 2011 and has spent several winters in the Puerto Rico Baseball League, will do 40 nights of TV work for ESPN's "Baseball Tonight" during the season, but that's a far more flexible schedule than any big league gig.
"For me, it's important to be with [Camila] for an entire summer," Cora said, "and that's why I still haven't been looking to sign a contract with anybody for any position."
Cora's Puerto Rico club dropped its first three games of this Caribbean Series, but beat a loaded Dominican Republic team in extra innings Monday and on Tuesday defeated Venezuela, 4-1, thanks to solid bullpen work and five combined hits by Jesus Feliciano and Ramon Castro. Venezuela and Puerto Rico are both 2-3, with two games left before Thursday's championship.
There's still work to be done in Puerto Rico, which hasn't put nearly as much resources into baseball as other Latin American nations in recent years. And Cora wants to be a big part of the efforts.
"We're not where we want to be, but I think we're better than we were two or three years ago," Cora said in Spanish. "I think the process is going to be slow. We need to keep structuring the [winter ball] league, and we have to find a way to make this work like it does in Mexico, the Dominican and Venezuela. We just have to keep working. We have a lot of young kids who got the opportunity to play this year, and that's going to give us something we can build on."