Boston Red Sox Rehire Alex Cora as the Team’s Manager

Alex Cora is back in Boston…

The Boston Red Sox have rehired the team’s 45-year-old Puerto Rican former manager,.

Alex Cora

Cora led the Red Sox to the 2018 World Series title but mutually agreed to part with the club amid the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. He was suspended for one season by Major League Baseball for his role in the scandal.

Boston, which ended the 60-game shortened season with a 24-36 record, decided not to retain manager Ron Roenicke, who replaced Cora in January after serving on his coaching staff.

The Red Sox were not allowed to speak to Cora until after the World Series, which ended October 27. The lack of activity before then was a sign that they were focused on Cora.

Cora agreed to a two-year contract that has a two-year team option for 2023 and ’24, the team said.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to manage once again and return to the game I have loved my entire life,” Cora said in a statement released by the team. “This past year, I have had time to reflect and evaluate many things, and I recognize how fortunate I am to lead this team once again. Not being a part of the game of baseball, and the pain of bringing negative attention to my family and this organization was extremely difficult. I am sorry for the harm my past actions have caused and will work hard to make this organization and its fans proud. …

“Boston is where I have always wanted to be and I could not be more excited to help the Red Sox achieve our ultimate goal of winning in October.”

The team he returns to bears little resemblance to the one he last managed.

Chaim Bloom is running the baseball side now, taking over last offseason just in time to part ways with Cora. He welcomed Cora back in a team statement Friday.

“Alex Cora is an outstanding manager, and the right person to lead our club into 2021 and beyond,” Bloom said. “The way he leads, inspires, and connects with everyone around him is almost unmatched, and he has incredible baseball acumen and feel for the game. …

“Because of all that had happened, I knew that I wanted to speak with Alex once his suspension ended, but I didn’t yet know if it made sense to consider him for the job as well. Our conversations were lengthy, intense, and emotional. Alex knows that what he did was wrong, and he regrets it. … He loves the Red Sox and the game of baseball, and because of that we believe he will make good on this second chance.”

Bloom’s other big move last offseason was to trade 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with David Price as part of an effort to get the Red Sox under the threshold for baseball’s competitive balance tax.

With Betts and Price gone, Chris Sale out with Tommy John surgery and Eduardo Rodriguez recovering from a COVID-19-related heart problem, the Red Sox finished in last place in the AL East.

But Cora also has hope for improvement in the 2021 season.

Sale is expected to return in the first half. J.D. Martinez, an MLB All-Star his first two years in Boston before struggling in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, is also under contract for at least one more year.

And the Red Sox have plenty of salary flexibility gained in the deal that sent Betts and Price to Los Angeles.

Cora replaced John Farrell as Boston’s manager after the team twice finished last under Farrell, despite winning the 2013 World Series with him. With Cora at the helm in 2018, the Red Sox raced to a 108-54 regular-season record and an easy win in the AL East. They led the majors with a .268 team batting average and 876 runs scored.

Boston then dominated the postseason with an 11-3 mark, posting wins over the Yankees and Astros in the AL division and championship series, respectively, before defeating the Dodgers in the World Series.

The Red Sox couldn’t sustain 2018’s success in Cora’s second season, finishing 84-78 and third in the division, 19 games behind the Yankees.

Cora, who worked as an ESPN analyst before leaving for the Astros, played 14 MLB seasons, including parts of four seasons with the Red Sox, winning the 2007 World Series with Boston. He also played for the Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, New York Mets and Texas Rangers before finishing his career with the Washington Nationals in 2011.

Ronald Acuna Jr. Earns Second Career Silver Slugger Award

There’s certainly a silver lining for Ronald Acuna Jr. 

The 22-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player is among four Atlanta Braves players to earn Silver Slugger Awards, which were unveiled Thursday by Major League Baseball in honor of the best offensive players at every position in each league.

Ronald Acuna Jr. 

Winning from the Braves were Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna, who each won the award for the second time, and first-time winner Travis d’Arnaud.

The Chicago White Sox led the American League with three Silver Sluggers: shortstop Tim Anderson, left fielder Eloy Jimenez and first baseman Jose Abreu, who won the award for the third time after batting .317 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs.

It was the first honor for both Anderson and Jimenez.

Los Angeles Angels star outfielder Mike Trout received his eighth Silver Slugger Award after batting .281 with 17 home runs and 46 RBIs this season.

2020 Silver Slugger Winners

POS. AL NL
C Salvador Perez, Royals Travis d’Arnaud, Braves
1B Jose Abreu, White Sox Freddie Freeman, Braves
2B DJ LeMahieu, Yankees Donovan Solano, Giants
SS Tim Anderson, White Sox Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
3B Jose Ramírez, Indians Manny Machado, Padres
OF Mike Trout, Angels Juan Soto, Nationals
OF Eloy Jimenez, White Sox Mookie Betts, Dodgers
OF Teoscar Hernandez, Blue Jays Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves
DH Nelson Cruz, Twins Marcell Ozuna, Braves

Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz, New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu, Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez, Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez rounded out the American League winners.

World Series champion and Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts, Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, San Francisco Giants second baseman Donovan Solano and San Diego Padres teammates Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado completed the National League list.

Selections are based on a combination of offensive stats, including batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, in addition to the managers’ and coaches’ views of a player’s overall offensive value.

Ernesto Jerez Named a Finalist for Ford C. Frick Award for Excellence in Baseball Broadcasting

Ernesto Jerez has voiced his way to the top…

The 52-year-old Dominican sportscaster and commentator for ESPN Deportes has been named a finalist for the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in baseball broadcasting

Ernesto Jerez

Jerez has worked ESPN Deportes’ Sunday Night Baseball for more than 25 years along with the World Series, All-Star Game and World Baseball Classic.

He’ll face off against Hall of Fame pitchers Dizzy Dean and Don Drysdale, along with Fox‘s Joe Buck, ESPN‘s Dan Shulman and NBC‘s Al Michaels.

Dave Campbell and Buddy Blattner also are finalists, the Hall said Monday.

The winner will be announced on Dec.ember 9 and will be honored next July 24 ahead of the Hall of Fame inductions, along with 2020 Frick winner Ken Harrelson. The 2020 ceremonies were called off became of the coronavirus pandemic.

This year’s Frick Award is for national voices, part of a three-year rotation that includes broadcasting beginnings (autumn 2021) and major league markets (autumn 2022).

Broadcasters must have at least 10 continuous years of major league broadcast service with a team, network or combination.

J.D. Martinez to Stay with the Boston Red Sox

J.D. Martinez won’t be losing his sox

The 33-year-old Cuban American professional baseball player and Boston Red Sox designated hitter has opted to keep his contract, that will pay $19,375,000 in each of the next two seasons, rather than opt out Sunday and become a free agent.

J.D. Martinez

Martinez hit a career-low .213 in the COVID-19 pandemic-shortened season with seven homers and 27 RBIs, his lowest output since 2013. His salary was cut from $23.75 million to a prorated $8,796,296. His deal also gives him the ability to opt out after the 2021 World Series.

Boston declined a $6.85 million option on left-hander Martin Perez and opted to pay a $500,000 buyout to the 29-year-old, who became a free agent.

Perez was 3-5 with a 4.50 ERA in 12 starts, striking out 46 and walking 28 in 62 innings in his first season with Boston after leaving the Minnesota Twins as a free agent. He had a $6 million salary, reduced to $2,222,222 in prorated pay.

Perez joined outfielders Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rusney Castillo and right-hander Collin McHugh as Boston players who became free agents.

Wonderfilm Media Developing Biopic About Tampa Bay Rays’ Breakout Star Randy Arozarena

Randy Arozarena’s life story is headed to the big screen…

The 25-year-old Cuban professional baseball outfielder and Tampa Bay Rays rookie, who broke the MLB record for most home runs and hits in a single postseason, will be the focus of a biopic from Wonderfilm Media.

Randy Arozarena

Arozarena, the Rays’ breakout star, came from Cuba and fueled his team’s run to the World Series, which eventually went to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games.

Brad Gann, the screenwriter of the Mark Wahlberg-led Invincible and a co-writer of pro surfer Bethany Hamilton biopic Soul Surfer, will write the screenplay.

Arozarena’s story is inspiring. He escaped Cuba on a makeshift boat, landed in Mexico, and started a new life there before making his way to the U.S. and eventually, his Major League Baseball debut in 2017.

Arozarena currently holds the MLB record for most home runs in a single postseason with 10. In his rookie postseason, Arozarena broke Barry Bonds’ record for most home runs as well as Derek Jeter’s record for most hits by a rookie. He was also named MVP of the ALCS.

Rays’ Randy Arozarena Breaks Record for Most Hits in Single Postseason

Randy Arozarena is breaking records like theyre going out of style

 

The 25-year-old Cuban professional baseball outfielder and Tampa Bay Rays rookie, who had already set the MLB record for most home runs in a postseason, now owns the record for most hits in a single postseason after his third-inning base hit off Los Angeles Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw in Sunday’s Game 5 of the World Series.

Randy Arozarena

 

Arozarena hit a 1-2 slider to left field for his 27th hit this postseason. He was tied with Pablo Sandoval, who had 26 hits in the 2014 postseason. The single brought home Yandy Diaz, who had tripled.

 

It was the first of Arozarena’s 27 hits with a runner in scoring position. Arozarena was previously 0-for-6 in that category.

 

“Pretty special. Pretty special,” manager Kevin Cash said after the Rays’ 4-2 loss to the Dodgers that left Tampa Bay in a 3-2 series deficit. “He wanted the ball, too. I noticed that. He asked for the ball. Congrats to Randy.”

 

After reaching first base, he signaled for someone to get the ball for him as a keepsake. Arozarena also has a record nine home runs in his first playoff experience, while Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager is right behind him with eight.

Game 6 is Tuesday at Globe Life Field.

Randy Arozarena Becomes First MLB Player to Hit Nine Home Runs in Single Postseason

Randy Arozarena is still making history…

The 25-year-old Cuban professional baseball outfielder and Tampa Bay Rays rookie has become the first player to hit nine home runs in a single postseason after taking Los Angeles Dodgers starter Julio Urias deep to right field in the fourth inning of Game 4 of the World Series on Saturday night.

Randy Arozarena

Arozarena already holds the rookie hit record for a single postseason, set in Game 3, while breaking a four-way tie for most home runs.

Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager also homered in Game 4 and has eight this postseason.

Arozarena later scored the winning run on Brett Phillips‘ walk-off single, as the Rays beat the Dodgers 8-7 in Game 4 to even the World Series at two games apiece.

Arozarena actually fell down rounding third base, but after Dodgers catcher Will Smith couldn’t handle the relay throw, the Rays’ rookie was able to make it home with the winning run.

Randy Arozarena

“All I was thinking about was just running hard,” Arozarena said through an interpreter. “Running hard as I could. Once I got to a certain spot, I saw that the ball got bobbled. I got sent home. I tripped. … I was actually trying to get back to third base because I knew we had already tied the game so, if anything, I was just trying to get in a rundown. Then, I saw the ball get past him, so I turned around and scored.”

Arozarena also holds the record for total bases in a single postseason. He singled to lead off the sixth inning Saturday night, tying Pablo Sandoval for most hits by any player in one postseason.

The 2020 playoffs featured an extra round, meaning Arozarena is playing in his 18th playoff game already.

Nelson Cruz, Carlos Beltran and Barry Bonds are the three other players — along with Seager — to hit eight home runs in a single postseason.

Julio Urías Makes MLB History as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Game 7 Closer Against the Atlanta Braves

Julio Urías has etched his name into the annals of Major League Baseball history…

On Sunday night, the 24-year-old Mexican professional baseball player, a former child prodigy, pitched the Los Angeles Dodgers into the 2020 World Series.

Julio Urías

“It was his moment,” manager Dave Roberts said.

Urías entered the seventh inning of a tied game and retired the next nine Atlanta Braves batters in order, requiring only 39 pitches to do so. He blanked the over the final three innings of a 4-3 victory in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series in Arlington, Texas.

With that, the left-hander became only the second reliever to close out a winner-take-all game with at least three no-hit innings. The other: Pedro Martinez in his famous six-inning performance in Game 5 of the 1999 American League Division Series for the Boston Red Sox against the Cleveland Indians.

It was Urias’ second win of the series, the first coming only four days earlier, when he threw 101 pitches in a Game 3 start.

His fastball touching 96 mph, he recorded his first three outs on only 10 pitches.

The quick seventh inning positioned Urías to earn the victory when Cody Bellinger launched a 94-mph sinker by Chris Martin into the right-field stands in the bottom of the inning.

Urías responded by navigating through the middle of the Braves’ order in the eighth inning. Their best hitter, Freddie Freeman, worked a nine-pitch at-bat, but Urías ultimately made him line out weakly to center field.

In Roberts’ mind, there was little question about who would pitch the ninth inning.

Kenley Jansen had pitched in each of the two previous games. This was Urías’ game to finish.

“I trust him,” Roberts said.

Urías forced Ozzie Albies to ground out. He made Dansby Swanson do the same. And when his changeup was lazily golfed to center field by Austin Riley, Urías raised his arms skyward.

Bellinger caught the fly ball, prompting Will Smith to approach the mound in celebration. Urías slapped Smith’s chest protector and embraced the catcher.

In the immediate aftermath of the victory, NLCS most valuable player Corey Seager marveled at Urías’ composure.

“That was his moment right there,” Seager said. “That was his game to win, and he went out and did it.”

Randy Arozarena Named American League Championship Series MVP After Hitting Four Homers vs. Houston Astros

Randy Arozarena is the man of  the hour…

The 25-year-old Cuban professional baseball outfielder continued his historic postseason run on Saturday with his seventh homer, a two-run shot in the first inning that gave theTampa Bay Rays a lead it never relinquished against the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series.

Randy Arozarena

Arozarena was named MVP of the ALCS, becoming the fourth rookie — and first rookie position player — to be named MVP of a league championship series.

He has homered seven times during this year’s playoffs, just one shy of the Major League Baseball record, and now has 47 total bases since the regular season ended.

Tampa Baywill now head to the World Series after holding off baseball’s most infamous team. The Rays beat the Astros 4-2 in Game 7, ending Houston’s bid to become the second team in baseball history to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a postseason series.

“It goes without saying this has been a weird year,” Rays Game 7 starter — and winner — Charlie Morton said. “It was pretty apparent early on the guys had bought into each other during this time.

“It was very challenging, because at first everything was about the protocols and trying to keep guys safe. Just guys come onto the field every day, knowing they could get sick, and staff coming in, and just a ton of work by people behind the scenes. I am so proud of these guys.”

The formula for the Rays is consistency, and it was very much evident in Game 7. They stifle the opposition. They catch the ball on defense. And they ride just enough home runs on offense to bring home the win.

The Rays now head to their second World Series in franchise history. The last time they played in the Fall Classic was in 2008, when they lost to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Tampa Bay entered the first 16-team playoff format in baseball history with a 40-20 record, tops in the AL, and thus earned the Junior Circuit’s No. 1 seed. That top seed held up, even though the Rays had to recover from losing three straight to Houston after winning the first three contests.

“Pretty special feeling,” Cash said. “I don’t know if I’ve had many better [moments] other than getting married and having three kids. This is right there below that. It can’t get much better than that. This is a special group to be a part of.”

For Houston, it was an emotional loss after a tumultuous season for the organization. The Astros were embroiled in a sign-stealing scandal last winter that tainted their 2017 World Series title and cost manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow their jobs.

“The legacy of this group is that these guys are ballplayers,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “These guys are men; they have been through a whole bunch other than on the ballfield. [Now] these guys can forget the problems they had that is out there and come together as a group and be forever friends.”

Hinch’s replacement, the 71-year-old Baker, helped restore some of the goodwill the Astros squandered. But with the Game 7 loss, Baker is still looking for the first championship of a managerial career that began in 1993. Yet, in 2020, there was much more that was brought into perspective.

“You go home and you regroup,” Baker said. “Personally, when I think of [former MLB executive Jimmie Lee Solomon, whose] funeral was today, and you think about the many friends I have lost over the last month, six months. That is the reality of life. Those are far greater losses than losing a ballgame.”

Pablo Sandoval Added to Atlanta Braves’ Roster for NL Wildcard Series Against the Cincinnati Reds

Pablo Sandoval is heading back to the field…

The 34-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball third baseman and former World Series MVP has been added to the Atlanta Braves‘ 28-player roster for the National League wildcard series against the Cincinnati Reds.

Pablo Sandoval

Sandoval joined the Braves after being released by the San Francisco Giants a couple of weeks ago.

 

He started at third base in the final game of the regular season, going 0 for 2 with two walks in a 9-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox. Sandoval played 33 games for the Giants, hitting .220 with one homer and six RBI.