BOSTON -- While Red Sox fans remain fixated on the slower-than-usual Hot Stove in hopes that it will eventually result in a slugger like J.D. Martinez packing his bats for Fenway, new manager Alex Cora is all in on his current roster.
In other words, Cora could surely find a spot for Martinez in the middle of his lineup if such a move happens. But he's not losing sleep over it, and he feels good about his team's chances either way.
In town for Thursday night's 79th annual Boston Baseball Writers Dinner, Cora couldn't wait to get to Spring Training.
"I know for a fact that there's a lot of guys in that clubhouse, they're going to improve. And if they do that, this is a team that won 93 games [last year], and people forget that," said Cora. "We ran into two teams the last two years that, they were just better at the time. With what we have right now and the things we're going to do -- I get it, people see the numbers, and yeah, power was down -- but we can find ways to score runs. At the end of the day, you score runs, you win games."
Cora plans on winning games with an offense that's more aggressive early in the count. He plans on winning with a young core of Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers that is continuing to evolve. He plans on winning with a baserunning attack that will be smarter but still opportunistic. He plans on winning with a pitching staff still led by ace Chris Sale and electric reliever Craig Kimbrel, but one that has David Price for 32 to 34 starts instead of 11.
"One thing I've been telling people is this is a good team. We have a lot of talent," Cora said. "They're athletic, and we're going to help them out to put them in situations where they're going to be successful. That's the plan."
Cora plans on managing a team that all of Boston will be proud of.
"I had a conversation about the Dodgers halfway through the season last year, and one of the biggest compliments I ever heard about a team was, 'When you think about the Dodgers, they don't beat themselves. You have to be on top of your game to beat them.' That's what I want from us," said Cora. "Day in and day out, we're going to play good baseball and take advantage of certain situations, and if a team is going to beat us, it's going to be because they're playing their best baseball."
Cora has spent much of his offseason flying around the country to meet his new players, and the conversations have energized him.
"We've been working together. It's been back and forth, a two-way conversation. [I'm] looking forward to working with them now. But it's been great the last two months," said Cora. "This is a good group."
Most of the group will be together on Friday and Saturday for the annual Winter Weekend.
"When I got on the plane this time knowing what was coming, I was like, 'You know what? You're the manager of the Red Sox. Now you have to work.' I'm very excited to see the coaches, players and everybody else and meeting and having fun with the fans over the weekend, but now it's business," said Cora.
Camp Cora will be underway before you know it under the sun in Fort Myers, Fla.
"I believe in quality work and being efficient," Cora said. "There's going to be short days, there's going to be long days, short bus rides and long ones. It has to be quality work. That's the important thing."