FORT MYERS, Fla. -- As Red Sox manager Alex Cora got ready to do his daily press briefing after Sunday's workout, he saw from a distance that the media was preoccupied with another prominent Boston coach."Hey," Cora hollered playfully to the group talking to Celtics coach Brad Stevens.Cora loved having
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- As Red Sox manager Alex Cora got ready to do his daily press briefing after Sunday's workout, he saw from a distance that the media was preoccupied with another prominent Boston coach.
"Hey," Cora hollered playfully to the group talking to Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
Cora loved having Stevens spend his All-Star break taking in a Red Sox workout for the second straight year.
"He's great," Cora said. "I think he mentioned Chuck Daly used to say, 'All you have to do is land the plane. There are going to be ups and downs, but just make sure you land the plane and go.'"
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Last year, nobody orchestrated a better landing than Cora, who led the Red Sox to 108 wins and a World Series championship in his rookie season at the helm.
But Cora likes to glean what he can from Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Stevens.
"I'm a sports fan. I love it," Cora said. "I love following teams. Obviously, I got caught up on the Patriots and Celtics now. From Bill, I've learned a lot. Can't do it yet with you guys, but it's pretty cool he's the way he is with the media. But then you talk to him and he's a real person and he's funny and obviously very smart.
"Brad is younger than I am by a year. Just to see what he's done through the years, rebuilding and now with the expectations, there's no ups and downs with him. It's very consistent with the way he preaches the game, coaches the game and deals with the media. That's something I've learned from both of them."
Though Stevens certainly could have spent his day at a nearby golf course or beach, he loved the chance to rove around Boston's Spring Training workout.
"I think you get so much more out of talking to people who are in the same line of work but a different spot, because I think you're all dealing with the same things on a day-to-day basis," Stevens said. "The challenges of team, the challenge of being the best that you can be, these guys are amazing at it. You could sense it last year when we were here that it was just a unique feel and had a special vibe about it, and it feels the same this year."
Understanding his place
It is refreshing to hear Brock Holt talk about his place with the Red Sox. As a utilityman, Holt has managed to emerge as a team leader. He knows what his role is and embraces it. Brock is even one of the few players who lives in Boston during the offseason.
"This is home to me. I've said many times that I'd like to play every day if possible, but if that were the case, I wouldn't be a part of this," Holt said. "This team calls for me to move around and play different positions, and that's what's kind of gotten me to the point that I'm at now. It's gotten me to be in the big leagues, to stay in the big leagues and to be a part of this team. I'm very thankful for that, and it fits well."
Cora appreciates what Holt brings on and off the field.
"He's always willing to do whatever," Cora said. "We were talking about Bradenton and Dunedin [road trip soon], and there aren't too many guys raising their hands to go on that trip. But he came in and was like, 'Whatever you need.'
"We're going through that, but he's a guy that… forget how good he is in the clubhouse. He's a good player, a productive player. The last two months of the season and playoffs, he was driving the ball out of the park, slugging and played good defense at second. Very happy to have him back. He makes us better. He's a guy that's going to be important for us all through the season. We'll find at-bats for him. He'll play different positions, and he's going to be productive."
Workman, Thornburg stand out
While bullpen roles are still evolving, Cora is encouraged early in camp by Brandon Workman and Tyler Thornburg.
"Work looks a lot better than last year, a year ago. Last year, he was a lot bigger, stronger. This year, he's more flexible, looks like an athlete," Cora said. "Tyler today, that was impressive, the best bullpen I've seen from him in a year."
Each year, the Red Sox do something that is unique from other teams prior to the first full-squad workout, which is scheduled for Monday. Members of ownership, the entire front office and all of the coaches, players and support staff gather for a meeting.
This year's session will be extra sweet because it comes after the franchise's fourth World Series title in the last 15 years.
"From Chris Sale, from John [Henry], Linda [Pizzuti Henry], Tom [Werner] and Mike [Gordon], all the way to the people we don't see on a daily basis, they're important. We're family," Cora said. "There's something special going on here for a few years. We'll take a picture tomorrow with everybody to remind them how close we are, how important everybody is."
In past years, the manager has given his tone-setting speech to the team during that meeting. Cora said he will address the players on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.