Alex Cora is taking responsibility for the illegal sign-stealing scheme implemented by the 2017 Astros, but he said he is not the only one responsible and certainly not the only one who deserves punishment.
That was the primary takeaway from the first public comments made by Cora, the former Red Sox manager and Astros bench coach, since Major League Baseball handed down penalties from its investigation into the scheme.
“If there is one thing I am absolutely sure of, it is that it was not a two-man show. We all did it,” Cora told ESPN on Thursday, referring to the Astros. “And let me be very clear that I am not denying my responsibility, because we were all responsible.”
Cora, who managed the Red Sox to the 2018 World Series title after winning a ring as the bench coach for the World Series champion Astros in 2017, received a one-season suspension after commissioner Rob Manfred’s investigation concluded he played a significant role in Houston’s trash can- banging setup when stealing opponents’ signals in ’17.
Astros owner Jim Crane, completely absolved by Manfred, fired general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch hours after the report was issued in mid-January.
The Red Sox were docked a second-round pick in this year’s draft for using their replay room in 2018 in ways that violated the rules, but MLB determined that occurred without Cora’s knowledge. Red Sox video replay system operator J.T. Watkins was suspended.
Of the Red Sox investigation, Cora said MLB’s report, released in April, “speaks for itself.” He was far more verbose about the 2017 Astros and the ways that story was framed early on.
In particular, he took issue with the notion that the scheme essentially was forced upon the rest of the clubhouse by Cora and Carlos Beltran, then in his final season as a player. (Beltran was hired by the Mets as manager in November but lost his job in January, another casualty of the report.)
“There has been a narrative out there of what happened. Ever since mid-November until the commissioner announced the results of the Red Sox investigation, I have read many things that are true and many others that are not,” Cora said. “Out of this whole process, if there is one thing that I completely reject and disagree with, it is people within the Astros’ organization singling me out, particularly Jeff Luhnow, as if I were the sole mastermind. The commissioner’s report sort of explained, in its own way, what happened. But the [Astros players] have spoken up and refuted any allegations that I was solely responsible.”