Cora using final two weeks to rest key players

September 16th, 2018

BOSTON -- Red Sox manager Alex Cora is a big believer in rest as it is. There will never be any Cal Ripken streaks on a team he manages. But thanks to the cushion his team has built, Cora can be even more liberal than usual with keeping his regulars off their feet the final two weeks of the regular season.

You saw an example of that on Sunday, when Cora posted a lineup against Mets ace that didn't include his two biggest middle-of-the-order bats in J.D. Martinez and .

That was a combined 216 RBIs on the bench against perhaps the best pitcher in the National League.

Cora said the decision had little to do with deGrom and much more to do with Monday being an off-day for the Red Sox.

"Just taking advantage of two days [in a row]," Cora said. "We'll start seeing this probably a little bit more throughout the week. Obviously, we haven't finished our job. We still have some games to play, but we'll take advantage of the schedule. Keep them fresh and off their feet."

The Red Sox had a magic number of four entering play on Sunday, meaning they could clinch the division as soon as the upcoming three-game series at Yankee Stadium that starts Tuesday. Cora was asked if he felt he owed it to the "integrity of the game" to play his full lineup against teams that are still battling for a playoff spot or seeding, which includes the Yankees.

"No, I owe it to our team. Whatever we have to do to be close to 100 percent -- wherever we go, that's what I have to do," Cora said. "You guys know how I feel when our regulars don't play. It's still a good lineup, still scoring a lot of runs. We'll match up, I think [the Yankees] are going lefty, righty, righty, if I'm not mistaken. We'll go from there. We'll still play to win, but if we have to rest some guys in the bullpen, we will, and we're going to take care of our starters."