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Cora: Puerto Rico Series a 'great platform'

Indians, Twins to play two-game set in San Juan on Tuesday and Wednesday
Special to MLB.com

BOSTON -- Alex Cora would prefer to be there himself, if he could.

Failing that, however, Cora is excited to see Major League Baseball visit his home island for the Puerto Rico Series that begins Tuesday between the Indians and Twins. He's excited for the buzz. He's excited for the likes of Francisco Lindor and Eddie Rosario, who will get to play in front of their friends and family. He's excited for his own family, for whom he bought tickets.

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BOSTON -- Alex Cora would prefer to be there himself, if he could.

Failing that, however, Cora is excited to see Major League Baseball visit his home island for the Puerto Rico Series that begins Tuesday between the Indians and Twins. He's excited for the buzz. He's excited for the likes of Francisco Lindor and Eddie Rosario, who will get to play in front of their friends and family. He's excited for his own family, for whom he bought tickets.

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"I'm jealous," the first-year Red Sox manager said before Saturday's game at Fenway Park. "I wish it was us."

Most of all, Cora is looking forward to the spotlight the visit will shine on an island still recovering from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria last September. Thousands of citizens of Puerto Rico remain without power, more than six months since the storm hit. As far as Cora can tell, most Americans remain oblivious to the extent of the damage.

"This is a great platform, so people can see the reality," Cora said. "I know one of the games is on [MLB] Network and one of the games is on ESPN. Usually it's pretty footage of the beach and the hotels. Hopefully they show the footage of the mountains and the small towns so people realize how much help we need."

It's a reality that's never far from the mind of Cora, a native of Caguas -- a city about 20 miles south of San Juan.

"We still have work to do," Cora said. "People don't realize there are people in the mountains that have no water, no power. It's been six or seven months. That's tough. We complain we don't have power for three days and we're going nuts, so imagine not having that. Our population is an older one. There are a lot people in need in the mountains. It's a struggle for them."

Cora coy about stretching out starters
At some point, Cora is going to ask Chris Sale -- not to mention Rick Porcello and David Price -- to throw more than 100 pitches.

That day might be Sunday, when Sale takes the mound for his fourth start of the season. Then again, it might not.

"It might be tomorrow," Cora said on Saturday morning. "It might be in a month."

Cora and the Red Sox have tried to scale back the workload on Sale and other Boston starters, a major theme since the start of Spring Training. Sale looked like a clear American League Cy Young Award front-runner through the first half of last season but seemed to tire in the second half, compiling a 4.09 ERA in 11 starts in August and September and then getting tagged for nine earned runs in 9 2/3 innings pitched in October.

That doesn't mean Sale will be on a short leash all season. Cora just doesn't want to tip his hand ahead of time.

"We know where we're at with them," Cora said. "I don't like talking about it because game-planning-wise, you never know. If you start grinding out at-bats and there's no quick outs, all of a sudden we're in a situation like the Marlins (on April 3) where they fouled off pitches, and he was out in the fifth."

Eduardo Rodriguez became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw more than 100 pitches in a game when he threw 104 in Friday night's win over Baltimore. Entering Saturday's slate of games, Boston was one of seven teams to have had just one pitcher clear the 100-pitch threshold. The Astros, Cora's former team, had seen a league-high seven pitchers throw at least 100 pitches in their first 13 games, entering play Saturday.

Brian MacPherson is a contributor to MLB.com based in Boston.

Boston Red Sox