BOSTON -- Red Sox manager Alex Cora still has the jersey he wore when the Astros won the World Series in his office. When Boston faces Houston at Minute Maid Park on Thursday, he plans to have the team sign it before framing it to hang in his home.Cora is
BOSTON -- Red Sox manager Alex Cora still has the jersey he wore when the Astros won the World Series in his office. When Boston faces Houston at Minute Maid Park on Thursday, he plans to have the team sign it before framing it to hang in his home.
Cora is gearing up to return to Houston for a four-game series and see the players he once coached. He is still in touch with some of them.
"I always tell them, I say, 'You guys will always have a space in my office somewhere,'" Cora said.
Before Thursday's game, Cora and bullpen coach Craig Bjornson -- who was also with the Astros in 2017 -- will be introduced on the field, and they will receive their World Series rings.
Spending a season as a bench coach for the Astros gave Cora more than a ring. He said that year prepared him for the role of manager by learning the importance of communication with medical staff, player personnel and fellow coaches.
"That's why I'm here," Cora said. "I thought I was ready a few years ago -- no, I wasn't. Without that year, no chance."
Pedroia, Betts out of lineup
After tallying four extra-base hits and a home run since Hanley Ramirez was designated for assignment, Mitch Moreland was out of the starting lineup in the series finale against the Blue Jays. The Sox swept the series, thanks to a 6-4 victory.
Moreland has hit 9-for-31 with two home runs and six RBIs in his past eight games. Against the Blue Jays on Tuesday, he continued to contribute, recording a run and an RBI. He pinch-hit for Blake Swihart in the seventh inning on Wednesday and struck out.
"After the first extra-base hit, I told him, 'If you get another extra-base hit, you might DH tomorrow.' ... We know what he's capable of doing on a daily basis, but we have to make sure we don't run him down into the ground. He's putting [together] good at-bats, he's moving well at first base. You guys know we're comfortable with him, but I think it makes sense."
Dustin Pedroia was also out of the lineup Wednesday for extra rest. He recorded his first hit of the season on Tuesday night after returning to the lineup on Saturday.
"He has the same preparation that he has to go through it," Cora said, "and we have to take care of him, so we'll go to Houston, and most likely he will play three out of four over there."
Mookie Betts was once again out of the lineup against the Blue Jays, but this could be the last day he misses, Cora said.
"If you hear something banging here, he's throwing the [medicine] ball right behind us," Cora said. "Just another day. It makes sense to see how he reacts to treatment and everything that's going in there, and if he's OK, most likely he'll be in the lineup tomorrow."
Cora has started splitting the time between catchers Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon, and to Cora, the catchers' improved offensive prowess is proof that the change is paying off.
"Sometimes I wonder, if you play them too much, will their offensive production be the same?" Cora said. "It seems when we started adding Sandy to the equation more and more, it seems like both of them are benefitting from it. … I do feel they can catch every day, but I like where we're at right now, especially offensively."
Another addition to the lineup against the Blue Jays was Blake Swihart, who took over at first base for the Red Sox.
Cora floated the idea of handing off a day in the rotation to the bullpen -- particularly to Steven Wright, Hector Velazquez or Christopher Johnson -- to give his starting pitchers an extra day of rest.
"We'll talk about it over the weekend, but it's in the menu," Cora said. "I do feel that we can take advantage of that, especially with the guys we have in the bullpen."
Blake Richardson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Boston.