Learning the legacy of Roberto Clemente had a different feel for Red Sox manager Alex Cora growing up.
For the Puerto Rican-born Cora, his experience leaning about Clemente came through Alex's late father José Manuel Cora, who had met Clemente when their paths crossed playing in the winter leagues in Puerto Rico.
“With our family, with my Dad, it was different,” Cora said on learning about Clemente. “We heard so many stories.”
Cora, who was born in Caragua, Puerto Rico, wore Clemente’s No. 21 to honor Clemente as MLB celebrated “Roberto Clemente Day” on Wednesday. The option to wear Clemente’s No. 21 was given to Puerto Rican-born players, as well as past and current Roberto Clemente Award nominees and recipients, and is part of MLB’s efforts to celebrate Clemente.
A year ago, Cora celebrated Clemente in his native Puerto Rico. While he was back home, Cora and his community took part in celebrating the day by wearing the No. 21 and teaching about Clemente and the legacy the Hall of Fame outfielder left on and off the field with his humanitarian efforts.
“The way he conducted himself on the field, off the field [and] the way he went about it,” Cora said. “Very impressive, right? For us, he was a Hall of Famer on the field. If there's a Hall of Fame above the Hall of Fame off the field, he's in that Hall of Fame. He lived his life with conviction, very firm [and] wasn't afraid to let people know where he was from [and] what he represented.”
But what sticks out to Cora is the efforts from the Clemente family and MLB to continue to pay tribute to Clemente and teach the youth about his impact.
“With who he was and what he represents, we will always be short, right? Because he was this personality,” Cora said. “He means so much to us. But I think we're doing a better job now. And I think we're sending a message and the kids are learning who Roberto Clemente was.”
Sale possibly returning Friday
Lefty Chris Sale could be making his return from the COVID-19 list as early as Friday, Cora said. Sale’s positive test came in on Sept. 9, but Cora said the lefty wasn’t experiencing symptoms as of Sept. 10.
Cora said Sale was heading in the right direction to make a start on Friday when the Red Sox return to Boston to open up a three-game series against the Orioles.
"Hopefully he can pitch on Friday,” Cora said on Sale’s status. “We're still waiting for MLB [and] the 'COVID committee,' but I think it'll be Friday for sure. And he'll be great for us.”
Before landing on the COVID injured list, Sale went 3-0 with a 2.52 ERA in five starts (25 innings) since making his season debut on Aug. 14.