BOSTON — They look relaxed and confident. Of course, winning streaks will do that. But these Boston Red Sox say they are stronger. They can feel it.

Hanley Ramirez is one of those confident players.

What changed?

“Got to give credit to that guy in the office right there,” Ramirez said, pointing to Alex Cora’s workplace in the Red Sox clubhouse.

What has Cora done?

“From Day 1,” Ramirez said, not finishing the sentence.


I’ll finish it. From Day 1 of Alex Cora’s brief time as the Boston Red Sox manager, he’s instilled a sense of calm and confidence.

Boston is baseball-crazy. People like to say the fans can be passionate. But face it, the perspective easily gets lost in this mentality that every game is a must-win … in a 162-game schedule.

Cora isn’t going there.

“I don’t get caught up, man,” he said.

He was asked what he did on his day off. He wasn’t watching video but shopping at the local Target as he moves into his new house.

No one recognized him. That will change.


You may want your Red Sox manager to be on duty 24/7, stressing over the team. He’s not Cora.

“The baseball experience is awesome but you can’t get caught up with it, because instead of having fun with it, it becomes a grind,” he said.

“I know I’m going to have good days, bad days, horrible days, I know that. But I’ll keep it simple. We have a good team and a great organization … This is my office, Fenway Park. It’s a special place. I’m having fun with it.

“It’s not that I’m hiding my emotions. It’s just how I feel … I’m comfortable doing my job and where I’m at.”

And his calm seems to rub off.

The Red Sox played in front of a packed house Thursday. They looked weak with the bats. Down 2-0 in the ninth, they found a way to rally. In extra innings they took over.


“There’s no panic in the dugout,” Ramirez said. “Everyone is relaxing and letting things happen. The more you get tight, the harder things get.

“Stay loose and let the game come to you.”

If anyone is an example of that it’s Ramirez. Cora visited him last December and later declared that Ramirez would bat third in the lineup. Even though Ramirez was 34 and coming off a season where he hit .242/.750 OPS with only 62 RBI.

“When I saw him in December,” Cora said, “he said, ‘you don’t have to worry about me. I’m healthy.’

“When he’s healthy, he doesn’t have to try to generate power. He can stay back and drive the ball. He was healthy two years ago and everyone saw what happened (.286/.866, 111 RBI).

“He’s hitting third for a reason. I do believe in him. I know the quality of his at-bats. I’ve seen it throughout his career. We challenged him.”


And Ramirez responded.

Others are also performing better. David Price seems more at peace – whether it’s the new atmosphere or Price attempting an attitude readjustment. After Thursday’s game, he spoke glowingly of the constant excitement of pitching at Fenway.

“It doesn’t matter how many innings you go or what the weather is, the atmosphere is always going to be there,” Price said.

“To get to play 81 home games, that’s something you don’t get to experience anywhere else.”

Of course, a 6-1 record usually puts people in good moods. And we must be clear that the first games of the schedule are against the Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins.

But the key is that Boston won games it ought to win.


“The good thing is we haven’t played our best baseball,” Cora said. “We have to improve on a few aspects, baserunning one of them. Pitching and defense have been solid. The at-bats are getting better. We’re very pleased where we’re at.

“People can say that it’s early but it’s always good to have a good start.”

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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