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For the Boston Red Sox, Major League Baseball’s findings that its well-respected manager participated in a cheating scheme that has rocked the league must have felt like a devastating curveball.
But team management said in a press conference earlier today that the decision made yesterday to "part ways" with Alex Cora was ultimately clear.
"It was really difficult but it was the right thing to do for the Boston Red Sox, given the contents of that report and for us to put this 2017 episode behind and move forward," said team President Sam Kennedy.
Kennedy, Red Sox owner John Henry, Chairman Tom Werner, and newly-hired General Manager Chaim Bloom fielded questions a day after announcing the team had mutually parted ways with Cora in light of his involvement in two major cheating scandals — including during the Red Sox’s 2018 World Series championship run.
They said they met with Cora on Tuesday to discuss the best way forward for the organization, and Cora expressed remorse for his involvement in the cheating schemes. Ultimately, they insisted, the two sides came to a mutual understanding that Cora should not continue as manager of the Red Sox and that Cora was not fired.
"Virtually all of us see this family as a family," said John Henry, the Red Sox's principal owner. "That feeling was operating yesterday in making a tough decision. It operates throughout the organization daily."
The team declined to comment on the MLB investigation into Cora's actions as a member of the 2017 Houston Astros coaching staff — in which he allegedly enacted plans to obtain and decipher signals from opposing teams during games using video technology — or the current league investigations into similar allegations against the 2018 Red Sox team he managed.
Furthermore, the Red Sox would not reveal whether they had spoken to Cora about illegal "sign-stealing" schemes when they interviewed him for the managerial job — despite growing concern about the Astros potentially using video technology to steal opponents' signals or MLB’s punishment of the 2017 Red Sox for using Apple Watches to steal signs.
But Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner emphasized the team's respect for Cora and the positive impact he made on both the organization and surrounding community during his time as manager.
"He admitted that what he had done was wrong, but that doesn't mitigate our opinion of the extraordinary talent that he has," said Werner, "and we continue to be very fond of Alex."
Werner also asked fans to reserve judgment about whether or not the Red Sox's 2018 championship under Cora is "tainted" by the cheating allegations until the full report comes out. The team maintained that their World Series victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, in particular, was legitimate.
Looking forward to the upcoming 2020 season, the team doesn't have much time to find a new manager. Pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training on Feb. 11, leaving just weeks to find Cora's replacement. The team does not yet have a timeline to hire a manager, but Bloom said he won't rush the process.
"I know we have a high regard for the rest of the staff, and we're going to figure out how to move forward," he said. Bloom also left open the possibility of using an interim manager for 2020 and continuing the full-time managerial search later, saying "all options are on the table."
As for what the future holds for the 2020 Red Sox on the field, the team remains optimistic about its chances to compete for the playoffs.
"The goal remains to be competitive always," said Bloom, "and in order to do that, you have to maintain the view on the big picture. Our job ... is to make sure we're keeping that longer view in mind so we deliver that consistently competitive product that our fans deserve."
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