The Boston Red Sox organization and reporters are filtering down to Florida to begin spring training. On Feb. 13, one day before the pitchers and catchers report date, manager Alex Cora addressed the media in a press conference.
As Cora spoke, bats cracked and gloves popped in the distance. But the feeling of baseball being back can't shake the dark cloud that looms over the current Red Sox team — a squad that had every chance to be better than it is but is weighed down by poor decision making.
Cora fielded questions from reporters about his future with the team and how the lineup is going to look. Some of his answers provided clarity, others offered more questions.
The skipper answered a few questions about his contract, which expires at the end of the season. Besides saying that he "didn't want to talk about" a potential return next year, Cora revealed that last season "took a toll" on him, both mentally and physically. However, he said over and over that his family loves being in Boston. His answers offered no clarity about whether or not Red Sox fans should expect to see him in Boston's dugout next year, though.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora's press conference raised more questions than fans would like
He did, however, confirm that he likely won't be in the dugout 10 years from now. Cora said he doesn't see himself as a "Tito or Tony" and that he has no plans to manage for the rest of his baseball career due to the sheer work and weight of the role.
Cora also took questions about the state of the team and where he imagines players spending the majority of their time.
The manager said Masataka Yoshida will be getting the majority of his at-bats as the designated hitter this year, and Sox fans could've seen this coming from a statement made by Tom Werner earlier in the offseason. Werner stated that he was excited for rookie outfielder Wilyer Abreu to get 400 at-bats this season, and an everyday station in left field would definitely get him there.
Cora's statement about who would be playing center field has opened the table for discussion. The skipper mentioned that another rookie, Ceddanne Rafaela, has a legitimate shot to become Boston's starting center fielder if he makes the team. When asked about Jarren Duran, the team's former center fielder, Cora didn't give a straight answer, which fuels the trade rumors surrounding the speedster.
"I do believe if Rafaela makes the team he's going to play center field," Cora said. "Then we'll go from there and somebody will win the job during spring training."
When Cora was asked how close the roster was to being final, he offered his most confusing, but uplifting answer yet:
"Close but not close," the manager said. "It's only Feb. 13, a lot of things can happen before Opening Day."
He's right. There are two top-tier pitchers without jobs in Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery, and the Red Sox have four outfielders on their radar to round out the roster. This team is two quality signings away from being respectable. Granted, the Red Sox missed out on Jorge Soler and any other outfielder they sign will be a worse outcome, but they need anything at this point.
Cora said his ultimate goal is to play into October. If that goal is to be met, Boston is going to need to make some moves. The current Red Sox are still a last-place club, and Cora likely knows it.
Hopefully, the front office takes Cora's "it's only Feb. 13" mindset to heart and makes some changes to meet the needs of the team. Cora isn't the only one who wants to see the Red Sox play beyond the regular season.