After Suspension For Sign-Stealing Scandal, Red Sox Rehire Alex Cora
Updated 7:00 a.m. ET Saturday
The Boston Red Sox have brought back one-time manager Alex Cora. Less than 10 months ago, the team parted ways with him for his role in the Houston Astros sign-stealing cheating scandal during the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
Cora will join as the team's manager for a two-year contract that will run through the 2022 season, with a two-year club option for the 2023 and 2024 seasons, according to a Red Sox press release.
Cora, who as a first-year manager helped lead the Red Sox to a World Series championship in 2018, had been suspended by Major League Baseball for the duration of the shortened 2020 season.
It was widely anticipated that Cora would be a candidate for the job once his suspension lifted, according to MLB Network, which first reported the news of Cora's hiring.
Cora's "strong relationships he has with ownership, the front office, the coaching staff and key players on the roster — was too compelling for [Red Sox] chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom to pass up," the MLB Network added.
Cora and the team "mutually agreed to part ways" in January after a lengthy investigation by the league concluded that Cora helped devise an elaborate sign-stealing system while serving as the Astros' bench coach.
The scheme, the league said, included Astros players banging on trash cans to alert teammates at bat of the upcoming pitch. The Astros were observing the opposing catcher's signs to the pitcher, giving their batter a heads up about what pitch was about to be thrown.
As NPR reported, the scheme wasn't well disguised.
"Witnesses made clear that everyone proximate to the Astros' dugout presumptively heard or saw the banging," Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred said.
The Astros won the World Series in 2017, defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers.
League investigators did not find evidence that the Astros continued the banging scheme into the 2018 season, but found that the team's replay review room did use cameras at the ball park "to decode signs" and relay that information to the dugout.
"The Astros' replay review room staff continued, at least for part of the 2018 season, to decode signs using the live center field camera feed, and to transmit the signs to the dugout through in-person communications," Manfred said.
The scheme, seen as the biggest scandal to rock Major League Baseball since the steroid doping era, led to a season-long suspension of Astros Manager A.J. Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow, the team's general manager. Both were subsequently fired by the Astros on Jan. 13.
A day later, the Red Sox announced they were parting ways with Cora.
"Today is a sad day for us. Alex is a special person and beloved member of the Red Sox. We are grateful for his impact on our franchise," team officials said in a statement with Cora.
"We agreed today that parting ways was the best thing for the organization," Cora said. "I do not want to be a distraction to the Red Sox as they move forward."
The scandal also impacted the New York Mets organization.
Carlos Beltrán, who played on the 2017 Astros team, had been hired in November 2019 as the Mets manager. Beltrán, the only player named in the cheating scandal, stepped down as the Mets manager before holding his first practice, The New York Times reported.
As ESPN reported, the team Cora comes back to looks nothing like the club he helped lead to a franchise-best 108 wins. This past season, with many top players no longer with the team, the Red Sox finished in last place in the American League East.
Prior to managing the Red Sox, Cora was an infielder for several teams, including Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, New York Mets, Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals.
He also played on the Red Sox team that won the 2007 World Series.
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.