Red Sox address dismissal of manager Alex Cora in sign-stealing scandal

Scott Clarke / ESPN Images(BOSTON) — Top executives for the Boston Red Sox addressed the dismissal of manager Alex Cora after he was identified as the ringleader of a sign-stealing scandal as bench coach for the Houston Astros.

Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner said during a press conference Wednesday that the team met with Cora on Tuesday and mutually decided to part ways “in the best interest” of the organization.

Werner described Cora as “professional” and “understanding that he made a mistake,” adding that the organization continues to “be very fond” of him.

The decision was “tough” for team staff, Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom said.

Cora is awaiting a decision by Major League Baseball that may be tied to a separate investigation into accusations the Red Sox also stole signs in 2018.

The organization had no advance knowledge of the findings of MLB’s report, Werner said.

Principal Owner John Henry said that the team takes any allegations “very, very seriously,” adding that it will investigate them fully and is working with MLB “to the fullest extent possible.”

“We would ask that everyone reserve judgement until MLB completes its investigation,” Henry said, declining to comment on MLB’s ruling for the Astros.

Cora said in a statement Tuesday that he and the Red Sox, which he led to the 2018 World Series title, agreed “that parting ways was the best thing for the organization.”

“I do not want to be a distraction to the Red Sox as they move forward,” he said. “My two years as manager were the best years of my life. It was an honor to manage these teams and help bring a World Series Championship back to Boston. I will forever be indebted to the organization and the fans who supported me as a player, a manager and in my efforts to help Puerto Rico. This is a special place. There is nothing like it in all of baseball, and I will miss it dearly.”

Now the Red Sox are tasked with finding a new manager less than a month before the start of spring training.

Major League Baseball on Monday announced stiff penalties against the Houston Astros for stealing signs during their 2017 World Series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Astros decoded opposing teams’ sign sequences between catchers and pitchers using live footage from the center field camera, and communicated that to hitters during at-bats, according to MLB.

Cora arranged for a monitor displaying the center field camera feed to be placed immediately outside the Astros’ dugout, which was allowed at the time, MLB said. Players would watch that TV feed, decode the signs and then bang on a trash can with a bat to alert batters what pitch to expect.

The feed was supposed to be used for “player development purposes” but was instead used to steal signs, MLB said.

The Astros fired general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch about an hour after they were suspended by MLB for the 2020 season. The investigation began following a November 2019 article by The Athletic that accused the team of engaging in sign-stealing and covered a period starting in 2016 until this week.

Houston was fined $5 million, the maximum allowed under current MLB rules, and forced to forfeit first- and second-round picks in the 2020 and 2021 drafts.

The MLB report also implicated current New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran, who MLB said approached Cora with a way to improve sign-stealing. It’s unclear whether Beltran will face consequences for his involvement in the scandal.

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