Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
The Official Site of the Boston Red Sox

news

Red Sox News

2 decades later, Cora, Roenicke team up again

New Red Sox manager's bench coach was his skipper in Minors in 1997
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- Alex Cora got his first glimpse of how Ron Roenicke's mind works back in 1997. Two decades ago, Cora was a promising infield prospect for the Dodgers' Double-A affiliate, and Roenicke was his manager.

The tables have turned, but in a way both men can appreciate.

BOSTON -- Alex Cora got his first glimpse of how Ron Roenicke's mind works back in 1997. Two decades ago, Cora was a promising infield prospect for the Dodgers' Double-A affiliate, and Roenicke was his manager.

The tables have turned, but in a way both men can appreciate.

Cora is the rookie manager of the Red Sox, and Roenicke -- who is the opposite of a rookie when it comes to coaching -- is his bench coach.

"Well for him, it's got to be good," Roenicke quipped about the role reversal.

Though he was comfortable in his role as third-base coach for the Angels under Mike Scioscia while working 35 miles from his house, Roenicke couldn't resist the chance to come east and reunite with Cora.

Cora didn't just ask Roenicke to be his wingman in the dugout. He convinced him with the type of passion and honesty that should serve Cora well in his first managerial job.

"That's part of the reason I'm here, because I really liked what he had to say about the communication," Roenicke said. "I think that's what this is all about. I really liked what Alex had to say to me, and I really liked what [president of baseball operations] Dave Dombrowski had to say to me. And when you hear things about how much they want you and how much they can use your help and how they want to go about it, it makes you feel really good about making a move."

Cora's list of priorities for finding a new coach was short: He wanted Roenicke, who managed the Brewers from 2011-15.

"Well, he got my attention in '97. We didn't have a good team in that Texas League," Cora said. "We barely had prospects, and we ran away with the first half and the second half, and then we won the whole thing. He's a guy that is always paying attention to the game and pays attention to details.

"And that's when I realized, maybe you're not the fastest one, but you can steal a few bases. Or you don't have power, but you can look for certain pitches and try to do damage. He sees the game in a different way. I saw that all the way back then, and I really liked what he did with us."

Video: Cora thanks Red Sox organization for opportunity

If Cora needed any more evidence of Roenicke's fast mind, it was right there for him to see this past season. While serving as bench coach for the Astros, Cora competed 19 times against Roenicke's Angels.

"I always said this year, playing them, that you have to pay attention to that guy," Cora said. "He probably has something on us that they're going to take advantage. I really like the way he coaches, the way he manages, the way he acts with his players and what he brings to the table. I'm glad he's with me."

Roenicke, who led the Brewers to a division title in his first season in 2011, would like to manage again some day under the right circumstances. Right now, though, he looks forward to serving as a second set of eyes for Cora and being an extension of the manager in his interactions with the players.

From his own experience as a skipper, Roenicke doesn't think he could have done nearly as well in that memorable first season if someone other than Jerry Narron was his bench coach. Narron had already been a manager, and he instinctively knew the type of support Roenicke needed.

"There's certain sequences you have to think about a manager, and it needs to be in an order, because if you don't, the game just goes too fast and you're caught off guard," Roenicke said. "Once you get that order of thinking down, all the sudden you have time to go pump a guy up at the end of the bench, maybe make guys laugh a little bit, whatever. I'm hoping I can get him to the point where he can really do the things he thinks are important to do."

The one thing Cora takes instant comfort in is knowing that Roenicke can set the tone with a sound daily plan in Spring Training, which is a role that typically falls on the bench coach.

"Yeah, he'll be in charge," Cora said. "This guy, he was part of the good Dodger days before this great run they have had. He was one of those guys that changed the way I saw the game. And he's a good instructor. He's going to help us out."

Roenicke knows there is no precise blueprint right now about the exact dynamic he will have with manager Cora, but he looks forward to seeing how it evolves.

"Every manager is different," Roenicke said. "Mike Scioscia was very intense during a ballgame, very on top of every different situation that could come up. That role when I was his bench coach is going to be a little different than being Alex's bench coach. It will start with, 'Alex, what do you want from me?' As we go along, we'll figure out things that he wants, and he won't know right off, but we'll figure that out as we go. And the constant talk between us during games is going to be huge, with me learning what he would want from me."

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox