FORT MYERS, Fla. — Coming off a last-place finish, one would think Red Sox Manager Alex Cora wouldn’t need extra motivation to turn his club’s fortunes around in 2023. But Cora clearly has something else lighting a fire under him entering his fifth season as manager.

Speaking before Boston’s final spring training game, Cora – in vague terms – proclaimed that certain things that occurred during the offseason have made his desire to win even greater entering the year.

“I’ve got a lot of reasons to go out there and guide this team to where we want to go, “Cora said. “I always have the same expectations just like the fan base and the organization. But there’s a lot of things that happened in the offseason that I took personal. It’s not baseball-related. I think it’s life-related. If I needed a chip on my shoulder, then I just got another one. I don’t want to say I’m more locked in than in previous years but people (lit) a fire under me in the offseason, personally.

“I’m ready to go. I’m really locked in on what I want to do. There’s just some things you take (personally). Others, you just brush away. I think there’s a lot of things that happened in the offseason that made me go, ‘OK, this is how it goes? Then let me go out there and do my thing.’”

Cora declined to reveal what exactly took place that made him feel like he had more to prove.

In a busy winter for the Red Sox, the only public controversy involving Cora was the release of Evan Drellich’s book, “Winning Fixes Everything,” which detailed the Astros’ cheating scheme in 2017 and did not paint Cora in a particularly positive light. Cora declined to discuss details about the book at the beginning of spring training.


Something – whether the book or something else – has clearly weighed on him in recent months.

“There’s a lot of reasons out there that I can go out there and do my job the way I know I can do it. It’s not that last year I didn’t do it, just plain and simple, we sucked. But if I needed a reminder that you’ve got to keep pushing the same way you’ve always done it, there were a few reminders in the offseason of that.”

Cora is 362-286 (.559) in four years with the Red Sox. He led the club to a World Series title in 2018 before a disappointing third-place finish in 2019. After being let go by the Red Sox and suspended for the 2020 season due to his role in Houston’s cheating scheme, he was rehired and guided the club to a surprising ALCS berth in 2021. The 2022 season was the most disappointing of Cora’s tenure and his first losing season.

Cora said he spent time this winter assessing what he could do better in 2023 but declined to get into specifics.

“Every year, even in ’18, I should have done (things) better,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you finish in first place and win the World Series, winning 119 games, or you finish last, last year. Every year, you feel like you could have done something better.

“Where I’m at, what I do, the way I go about my business, some people like it, some people don’t,” he said. “I’ve just got to get locked in on my group and keep pushing them. We finished last, last year. That’s not acceptable. I’m not here to finish last. I’m here to win championships.”


Throughout spring training, Cora has acknowledged that it is fair for people to project the Red Sox to finish out of the playoff picture after the way 2022 went. Still, he believes his team can contend in a loaded American League East.

“From a personal level, I’m ready for this regardless of the outcome,” Cora said. “I’m very prepared for this. If I was in the media business, I’d be saying the same thing about the group. No doubt about it. We have to be better. We’re surrounded by a lot of good teams. But on a personal note, I’m very prepared for this one.”

POLITI RETURNS: In December, the Red Sox lost three pitchers in the Rule 5 draft. On Tuesday, they got one of them back.

Reliever A.J. Politi was returned to the Red Sox after failing to make the Orioles’ Opening Day roster and being designated for assignment by Baltimore on Monday. Politi is likely to join Triple-A Worcester, where he will serve as bullpen depth as a non-40-man roster player.

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