Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, or “AC,” as many call him, has managed his team all the way to ALCS after many predicted that they’d be an 80-win team at best. Garrett Whitlock is one among the many who treasure the manager.
“He’s a guy you’d run through a wall for,” said Whitlock before Monday’s win over the Rays, which clinched an ALCS spot. “If he told me to run through that wall, I’d believe that he had something there to make sure it would fall for me. That’s the kind of leader he is.”
The Sox reliever has a moment he cherishes most with Cora, and it was before he even got his very successful season underway.
“When AC, I was in the weight room in Spring Training complex, and AC came up to me and said, hey, we’ve got to talk,” the right-hander said. “My eyes were like, okay. This is going to be one of two things. So I walk out and we’re in the tent area, because of COVID and everything we had that tent area outside. It was him — AC, Chaim, Bushy, Tek, and Walk. They’re all sitting under the tent, and I was like, all right, this is going to be a good or bad thing.’
“I think it was the moment when Chaim asked me, ‘hey, have you got any plans for April 1st? When he asked me like, ‘hey, we’d love to have you out there,’ it was a pretty special moment,” Whitlock continued. “So that’s definitely by far been the most memorable (moment).”
The Sox manager has had a bit of a rough path after being crowned as World Series champions in 2018. After a dreadful 2019 that resulted in a lackluster 84-78 finish, Cora was fired by Boston after it was revealed that he was involved in the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal — he was Houston’s bench coach at the time. He was re-hired before this season, and it seemingly panned out well.
Many others have also expressed their fathom for the Spanish manager.
In addition, it is not like Whitlock was in a great situation before being grabbed by the Sox. He hadn’t pitched above Double-A prior to this season and received Tommy John surgery in 2019 before being picked in this year’s Rule 5 draft by the Sox — as Chaim Bloom took a chance on somebody almost nobody knew.
The 25-year-old has posted a 1.96 ERA through 46 outings with Boston this season, appearing in some of the most high-leverage roles and being by far the Sox’s best reliever. He slated a 2.84 xFIP and a strikeout rate of 27.2% as well.
“If you want to play for someone and work for someone, that’s the kind of guy that inspires you,” Whitlock remarked about Cora. “So you want to show up each day for that guy just because you know he’s put a lot on for us, and so we try and do the same for him.”
PHOTO OF GARRETT WHITLOCK/DAVID BANKS/ASSOCIATED PRESS