The Boston Red Sox parted ways with Manager Alex Cora on Tuesday night, a day after a Major League Baseball report implicated him in a cheating scandal from his time as the bench coach of the Houston Astros in 2017.
Cora, who was hired by the Red Sox in 2018, was one of the central figures in an illicit scheme to steal opposing catchers’ signs via a video feed and communicate them to the Astros’ hitters, according to the report. He won a World Series with the Astros in 2017 and led the Red Sox to a championship in 2018, as well.
“Given the findings of the Commissioner’s ruling, we collectively decided that it would not be possible for Alex to effectively lead the club going forward,” the Red Sox said in a statement.
The statement was issued jointly with Cora, who thanked the team’s executives and called his two years with the Red Sox “the best years of my life.”
“It was an honor to manage these teams and help bring a World Series Championship back to Boston,” said Cora, 44, who was in his first major league managing job. He added that he did not want to be a distraction for the team.
The statement did not include an apology.
Cora, 44, played in the majors for 14 seasons, establishing himself as a well-regarded utility infielder. He had a brief career as a broadcaster with ESPN before joining the Astros as a bench coach in 2016. In his first season as Boston’s manager, he led the team to a 108-54 record, winning the World Series in five games over the Los Angeles Dodgers — the same team Houston had defeated in 2017.
Boston was not able to sustain that success in its second season under Cora, finishing 84-78 and failing to make the playoffs.
With this decision, Cora is the third person to lose his job in the wake of M.L.B.’s scathing report. On Monday, M.L.B. suspended Astros Manager A.J. Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow until the end of the 2020 World Series for allowing the conduct to occur under their watch. Jim Crane, Houston’s owner and chairman, went one step beyond M.L.B.’s ruling, firing both Hinch and Luhnow about an hour after the suspension was handed down.
In the report, Commissioner Robert D. Manfred said the league could not determine whether the conduct of the Astros had changed the results of any games by cheating. But, as a result of the perception created by the scheme being revealed, M.L.B. chose to deliver one of the heaviest punishments in the game’s history.
The commissioner’s office announced a separate investigation into the Red Sox this month after an article in The Athletic, citing anonymous sources connected to the club, accused Boston of illegally using the replay video room next to the dugout to decipher signs. Because of that investigation, M.L.B. declined to punish Cora on Monday, saying it would wait until the second inquiry had been completed. But Cora was expected to receive similar punishments to those of Luhnow and Hinch.
The report on Monday said the Houston investigation involved at least 68 interviews and reviewed thousands of videos and documents. It repeatedly referenced Cora’s involvement as the team’s bench coach.
The Astros used video equipment to decipher a catcher’s signs, and that information was relayed to batters by various methods — most often by having someone bang on a nearby trash can with a bat; the number of hits on the trash can indicated what pitch was coming.
“Cora was involved in developing both the banging scheme and utilizing the replay review room to decode and transmit signs,” the report said. “Cora participated in both schemes, and through his active participation, implicitly condoned the players’ conduct.”
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