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Red Sox respond to Cora's spring message

New skipper lays out team goals before full-squad workout
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Alex Cora remembers the tradition well from his time as a player with the Red Sox. Each year, on the morning of the first full-squad workout of Spring Training, there is a big meeting that includes ownership, the front office, the entire roster and uniformed coaching staff.

Only this time, instead of merely being a spectator, it was on Cora to provide one of the most important speeches on the agenda as the manager.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Alex Cora remembers the tradition well from his time as a player with the Red Sox. Each year, on the morning of the first full-squad workout of Spring Training, there is a big meeting that includes ownership, the front office, the entire roster and uniformed coaching staff.

Only this time, instead of merely being a spectator, it was on Cora to provide one of the most important speeches on the agenda as the manager.

What was Cora's message on Monday morning?

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"That everybody has a role and everybody has an impact of what we're trying to accomplish," Cora said. "There are different ways and different roles. For us to be the best team in the big leagues whenever everything is said and done this year, everybody has to do their part."

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It was one his players took to heart.

"Yeah, I mean, it's true," left fielder Andrew Benintendi said. "Everything he said this morning was true. We're all working on the same goal. It's not just as players. It's everybody throughout the entire organization contributing in some way and it's good to have everybody here."

"I thought it was what we needed to hear," center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. said. "It was the first meeting of the year and he talked about what we plan on doing and becoming a team."

Ownership also thought Cora struck the right chord in his message.

Video: Cora talks comfortability, effort at Spring Training

"I think he's extremely positive," Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said. "I think you feel a sense of, he wants to encourage the team to have fun, not get too down over a couple of losses. He talked about how we are a family. I know the response from the players has been that it's a joy to play for Alex and it's a joy to see the pleasure in the interaction between Alex and the players already. You know he's just an outstanding leader and we're proud that he's our manager."

Having been part of several different organizations in his baseball career, Cora appreciates the uniqueness of the meeting the Red Sox have each spring.

"We do things differently than other organizations," Cora said. "You've got people who come down from Boston and are part of that big meeting. They call it the company meeting. We have people in there from different areas, non-uniformed personnel who are a big part of what we do here as an organization."

Surprise guest: Coach Stevens
Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who is enjoying his All-Star break in Florida, was a surprise guest at the end of Monday's meeting.

"He talked to the guys a little bit," Cora said. "I thought that was cool. Talking about his experience as a baseball player and then talking about the first day. One thing he mentioned that got my attention, they're in their [All-Star] break and he wanted to have that feeling of the first day again. When it's the first day, everybody has that extra hop, everybody's energized, everybody's into it. He wanted to come down here, not only to hang out with us and be part of it, but to have that feeling again. Hopefully it helps out."

The players enjoyed hearing a different perspective.

"Oh, it was great," Bradley said. "It was special to see or hear things from different perspectives and another great figure around the city. I look forward to seeing him around more often."

First impressions
Once the Red Sox took the field, Cora was impressed by quite a bit of what he saw.

"[Hanley Ramirez] hit a rocket off somebody, and was hitting the ball to right-center," Cora said. "Defensively, [Mitch Moreland] obviously. He is that good at first base. Moving his feet, the footwork, communication with everybody."

Cora also expressed excitement about the improved health of setup man Carson Smith, who missed most of last season following Tommy John surgery.

"He isn't a comfortable at-bat," Cora said. "His stuff plays, his delivery is very deceptive. He's going to be a big part of what we're trying to accomplish. We've just got to make sure like anybody else to keep him healthy throughout the season. I really like what I see, I really like what I saw last year. He's good, man. He's a good pitcher."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

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