MIAMI -- For rookie Red Sox manager Alex Cora, it's special to be in Miami for this two-game set against the Marlins, which started Monday night.Cora was a proud Miami Hurricane, and he has stayed connected to the program long since his playing days there ended in 1996. He is
MIAMI -- For rookie Red Sox manager Alex Cora, it's special to be in Miami for this two-game set against the Marlins, which started Monday night.
Cora was a proud Miami Hurricane, and he has stayed connected to the program long since his playing days there ended in 1996. He is a member of the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame.
"Oh, it's great," Cora said. "Those three years that I spent here, I had a blast. I grew up a lot, not only as a player but as a person. This is my second home. We've got 25 people coming. I think coach [Jim] Morris will be around. There's something about this place that is special. I'm a Cane for life. I love the Hurricanes and I love this city, so it's fun to be here."
It was amusing listening to Cora take a trip down memory lane, especially when he recalled one of the people he used to play video games with in the dorms.
"Warren Sapp was there, Ray Lewis was there, and 'The Rock,' Dwayne Johnson," Cora said. "I played PlayStation with the Rock my freshman year. We didn't know [what was ahead at the time]. We went to his room and we were playing. We didn't know.
"All of a sudden, 10 years later, he's like a superstar, and I played PlayStation with him. I don't think he knows who I am, or that I played PlayStation with him, but I can say I did."
How did Cora, a native of Puerto Rico, end up choosing Miami? His brother Joey played a role.
"Joey was playing with [former Hurricane] Alex Fernandez with the White Sox. Joey kind of like, brought it up, and Alex called the pitching coach at Miami, and they started recruiting me," Cora said.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
"Well, Joey went to Vanderbilt and around that time, Eddie Perez, he went to [Florida State], Luis Alicea went to FSU, and I don't know if you remember, but around that time on ESPN, they showed a lot of college games and most of the games they showed were UM games, so I fell in love with the program," Cora said. "I loved the unis first of all, the orange top and the green one. Loved that, and it seemed like they always showed the Friday game and it was always packed.
"I was like, well, it's either -- I'll say it now -- it was either Miami or FSU, honestly. Loved the Sunday uniforms. Came here, my first official visit, it was to Miami, and that was the only visit. I canceled everybody else and decided to come here."
Left-hander Thomas Pomeranz (strained flexor, left forearm) took another step toward his return when he pitched five innings in a Minor League game in Fort Myers on Monday.
Pomeranz joined the Red Sox in Miami for their two-game set against the Marlins. His next start will likely be for a Minor League affiliate on Saturday.
Eduardo Rodriguez, coming off right knee surgery, will make his next Minors start on Tuesday, ramping up to six innings.
Reliever Tyler Thornburg, who didn't pitch last year after surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, will also get an inning in Fort Myers on Tuesday.
Plenty of off-days ahead
The Red Sox open the season with six games in six days, a stretch that will end on Tuesday. That will soon change. The Red Sox have a day off on Wednesday, followed by their home opener on Thursday and then another off-day on Friday. After playing the Rays on Saturday and Sunday, the Sox are again off on Monday.
"This week, it'll be interesting with the weather, too. Everybody knows where they're at. Less off-days from the guys. We'll probably see the same lineup back to back because of the off-day," Cora said. "It's difficult, but it's good, too, for the bullpen. To come out of the shoot and play six games, and those type of games at Tampa Bay are not easy for the bullpen. But I've been saying we're covered. We'll be good. At least we know we have 27 outs if we have to get them."
Rick Porcello will have six days of rest before his next start on Saturday.
"They'll be fine," Cora said. "Like we've been saying, rest is important. And if they have one extra day, they've been in the big leagues for a long time, they know how to prepare. The next outing is Saturday, and he'll probably do something during the week that is going to get him ready for that one."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.