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Red Sox fire Alex Cora after manager implicated in sign-stealing scandal

Red Sox fire Alex Cora after manager implicated in sign-stealing scandal
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BOSTON—The Boston Red Sox fired manager Alex Cora on Tuesday, a day after baseball commissioner Rob Manfred implicated him in the sport’s sign-stealing scandal.

Cora was the bench coach for the Houston Astros when they won the 2017 World Series and led Boston to the title the following year in his first season as manager. Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were fired on Monday, an hour after Manfred suspended them for the 2020 season for their role in the cheating scheme.

Manfred’s nine-page report mentioned Cora 11 times, describing him as a key person in the planning and execution of the cheating scheme.

Cora met Tuesday with Red Sox management.

“Given the findings and the commissioner’s ruling, we collectively decided that it would not be possible for Alex to effectively lead the club going forward and we mutually agreed to part ways,” the team said in a statement attributed to owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, CEO Sam Kennedy and Cora.

Manfred said Cora was among those who “originated and executed” aspects of the cheating scheme, in which the team used a centre-field camera to decode catchers’ signals to pitchers and banged on a trash can with a bat or massage gun near the dugout to let hitters know which pitch was coming.

Manfred announced he was withholding punishment of Cora until completing a separate investigation of accusations the Red Sox stole signs in 2018. Indications were the penalty would be equal or greater than what Hinch and Luhnow received.

“We agreed today that parting ways was the best thing for the organization,” Cora said in a statement released by the Red Sox. “I do not want to be a distraction to the Red Sox as they move forward.”

New Mets manager Carlos Beltran also was implicated by Manfred in his report Monday, the only player mentioned. Manfred decided that no players would be disciplined for breaking rules prohibiting the use of electronics to steal catcher’s signs.

The Mets have not commented on Beltran’s status.

A member of Boston’s 2007 championship club, Cora was hired in November to take over a Red Sox team that won back-to-back AL East titles in 2016-17 but failed to advance in the post-season under John Farrell.

Cora guided the team to a franchise-record 108 regular-season victories in 2018 and its fourth World Series title in 15 years. The Red Sox beat a pair of 100-win teams in the Yankees and Astros in the AL playoffs, then defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in a five-game World Series to make Cora the first Puerto Rican manager to win a championship and the fifth manager to guide a team to a title in his first season.

He was rewarded by president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski with a new contract adding an extra guaranteed season in 2021, a deal that included a club option for 2022.

Dombrowski was fired in September after the Red Sox stumbled toward an 84-78 record and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2015. He was replaced this off-season by former Tampa Bay Rays executive Chaim Bloom, who will lead the search for a new manager.

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“This is a sad day for us,” Henry, Werner and Kennedy said in a statement. “Alex is a special person and a beloved member of the Red Sox. We are grateful for his impact on our franchise. We will miss his passion, his energy and his significant contributions to the communities of New England and Puerto Rico.”

The scandal — but not the severity of the punishment — is reminiscent of the New England Patriots’ sign-stealing scheme in 2007, in which the team videotaped opposing coaches to decipher their signals. The NFL fined the Patriots $250,000 (U.S.) and docked them a first-round draft pick, and also fined coach Bill Belichick $500,000.
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