“It is an extremely difficult group”: Alex Cora anticipates a tough battle against Venezuela and the Dominican Republic in the Clásico

Last March, alex cora He was concerned because the Puerto Rico Baseball Federation had not yet appointed a general manager heading into the World Baseball Classic in 2023.

Visiting The new day to the spring camps of the Houston Red Sox in Fort Myers, Florida, the Puerto Rican leader insisted on addressing the issue of the vacancy he held in 2017 and recommended the former player and ESPN commentator, Eduardo Pérez, for the position.

Similarly, he mentioned Ramón Vázquez, pilot of the Criollos de Caguas in winter baseball and coach of the Red Sox; and Joe Espada, bench coach for the Houston Astros, as candidates for the leadership of Puerto Rico.

His request was fulfilled when in July Pérez was appointed to the position, who, immediately, had the responsibility of recruiting the next manager of the Puerto Rican ninth.

Pérez, however, lasted as general manager until September due to differences with the federative president José Quiles. He was replaced by former scout Joey Solá.

as he knew The new day, Quiles offered the managerial position to now former Major League catcher Yadier Molina without informing Pérez, who found out about said commitment when he had a meeting with Molina on the agenda to convince him to play his last Clásico. Pérez had Espada as his favorite. This prompted Pérez’s resignation.

Eduardo Pérez - on the right - had several discrepancies with José Quiles.
Eduardo Pérez – on the right – had several discrepancies with José Quiles. (File, Archive)

Four months before the Clásico, Cora prefers to look to the future and leave behind the controversy that has arisen, giving “the blessing” to both Molina and Solá.

“I think that not everyone does not know the story (of what happened). I think there are many people regretting how all this ran. In the end, I think we are finally calm. It’s not that nothing happened, but it is what it is,” Cora reacted to El Nuevo Día about Pérez’s resignation.

“We have Yadi, we have Joey and a group of players who are dedicated to the cause. Not only the players who are 100 percent Puerto Rican, there are others who are going to say present and who are going to be part of what is going to be a good baseball team,” he added.

The stars Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Javier Báez, José Berríos, Kike Hernández, Edwin Díaz and José Miranda are confirmed for the ninth Puerto Rican. Also, MLB confirmed the participation of the pitcher of Puerto Rican roots Marcus Stroman with Puerto Rico. In 2017, he was the Most Valuable Player of the final against “Team Rubio” with the United States.

“In the end, what happened is not going to dictate what is going to happen next year in the tournament. From what I understand, they will be close to us (practicing in central Florida) when they go to practice. We will make sure that the chemistry continues, that we continue to do what we did in 2017,” Cora said.

Puerto Rico will play the group stage at the Miami Marlins stadium in key D together with the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Israel and Nicaragua, first rival on March 11.

“It is a very difficult group. You get to see in the World Series right now, the Venezuelans who are pitching that they did not know each other like Ranger Suarez and Luis Garcia, they are solid starters. Houston’s bullpen may be the Dominican Republic’s. In the end, I remember when we played in 2013. Nobody gave us a chance and we reached the final game. In 2017 we also played a difficult group and reached the final. I wouldn’t be surprised if they do the same in 2023 because there is something about that tournament and about our team that we take very seriously and when they give themselves to the cause, it’s real”, said Cora.

Molina, 40, who ended his successful 19-year career with the San Luis Cardinals last month, is having his first managerial experience with the Navegantes del Magallanes in the Venezuelan winter league. In the Classic, they are confirmed to be assisted by Ricky Bones as pitching coach and Luis “Papa” Rivera as third base coach.

“It’s going to be OK. He is surrounded by a tremendous group of trainers. I know they haven’t been announced yet but I have a good idea of ​​who’s going to be there and help him out. Ricky’s experience is good. He’s been there before and he knows the rules in a tournament that’s hard to handle because of all the limitations (on pitchers). It will be tremendous and the boys will be fine. I have spoken with them and there was more noise here in Puerto Rico than there with them. What they want is to play and represent Puerto Rico in the right way,” said Cora.

The coaching staff could be completed with Alex Cintrón, Juan “Igor” González, José “Cheo” Molina and José “Cheíto” Oquendo.

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