Watch CBS News

Alex Cora says he's not bothered by contract status, doesn't envision growing old as MLB manager

BOSTON -- Alex Cora sat down with reporters in Fort Myers on Tuesday, marking the unofficial start to the 2024 season for the Boston Red Sox. Notably, the 48-year-old appeared to be in better physical shape than he was at the end of the 2023 season.

Cora said that is the result of some very intentional work done during his offseason.

"It was a great offseason. Last year was a tough one on me. I've gotta be honest with you, the season took a toll on me," Cora said. "Mentally, physically, it was tough. And I decided -- actually it was around September, and it started, I got inducted into the Puerto Rican Sports Hall of Fame. And so when I looked at myself in September, I looked at myself like, 'Bro, you better get going, because there's going to be a lot of pictures of you in this ceremony.'"

A combination of a healthier diet, a running program alongside his partner, Angelica Feliciano (who's training for the Boston Marathon), and some truth bombs from his own mother ("She crushed me"), Cora made sure he was entering 2024 in a healthier spot than when he left 2023.

"Honestly, all joking aside, whatever, I felt awful physically last year. I felt awful health-wise, in a sense. Energy-wise. It was bad," Cora said. "It was bad, and I cannot let a game dictate who I am as a person or what I have to do. So I feel real good."

While Cora certainly is bringing a refreshed energy into the 2024 season, he's not carrying a new contract. Cora's deal, signed in 2021, included option years for 2023 and 2024. That puts Cora in lame-duck status for the 2024 season.

"No, not at all," he said when asked if he's bothered by that status. "Like I've been saying all along, this is where we're at. And whatever happens in the future is gonna be a family decision. I'm glad that I'm here. This organization gave me a chance to become a big league manager in the fall of 2017. And then -- which was more surprisingly, and I take it by heart -- after the suspension, they gave me the chance to come back right after that. And I appreciate that. I never thought I was gonna be back managing as soon as I did after the mistake that I made, and for that, we appreciate that. I mean, Angelica talked about it the other day with [The Boston Globe's Alex Speier] -- this is family for us. We love it in Boston. But at the same time, we understand as a family how it works. It's a business. And at the same time, we're very happy where we're at. You know, we had one of the best offseasons that I've had in a while. We traveled a lot, the kids are playing soccer, they're playing baseball. I actually coached their team for a little bit there.

"To answer your question straightforward, no it doesn't bother me."

A part of that feeling may be tied to Cora believing there's more to life than managing baseball. With two young sons and a daughter in college, Cora doesn't envision himself sitting in a dugout during his 60s.

"I'm not gonna manage 10 more years, I'll tell you that. I don't see myself being like Tito [Francona] or Tony [LaRussa]," he said. "I got two boys, I got a daughter that, she's a junior in college. So there's more in life than baseball, to be honest with you. This is a tough business. And I mentioned it three years ago, I read [Pep] Guardiola's book. And he said when you spend more than five or six years in one place, it can take a toll on you. And I think I got hit last year with that. I'm glad that I recognized that."

Cora continued: "It's not easy, man, dealing with the media, dealing with players, the front office, the pressure of winning -- it's not easy. It should be fun, and sometimes it's not. ... With me, like I said, I don't see myself managing 10 years. I envision myself doing other stuff in the game, with the family, back home in Puerto Rico."

While everyone in professional sports would prefer long-term job security over uncertainty, Cora's perspective sounded like the message of someone who wouldn't necessarily hate returning to Puerto Rico if his tenure in Boston does come to an end.

His status -- in the short and long term -- figures to be a significant storyline hovering over the team this year, both figuratively and literally, with the Netflix camera crews and microphones poised to be close to Cora at all times in the coming months. Yet Cora told the media he doesn't want to be the focus.

"But like I said, I don't want this season to be about me. This is about the Boston Red Sox and how we need to bounce back to be better to play in October," Cora said. "Obviously, it's something that is going to come up during the season, and I respect that. But I really don't want to talk too much about it, because this is where I'm at, I love it here. I appreciate everything that this organization has done with me and my family. Like I said a few years ago, when [daughter] Camila was 5 in 2007 and 2008, they treated Camila the same way they're treating my boys. And that's a testament to who we are as an organization. It's family-first, they love to take care of us, and we appreciate it."

Cora is 440-370 as manager of the Red Sox. After leading the team to three winning seasons (2018, 2019, 2021) and a World Series title, he's guided the Red Sox to back-to-back 78-84 seasons, with the team finishing in last place in the AL East both times.

While nobody would argue that Cora was given a roster to contend for a championship over the past two seasons (and for this upcoming season), that may not matter if the Craig Breslow-led front office wants to move in a different direction. The lack of contractual obligation beyond 2024 could allow them to make such a decision with few constraints.

That, though, is something Cora will leave for everybody else to discuss. When asked directly if he wants to manage the Red Sox beyond the upcoming season, Cora's answer was short: "I don't want to talk about that right now."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.