It’s no secret Boston Red Sox Manager Alex Cora likes to have a versatile bench. Since he arrived in spring training in February, Cora has preached the importance of reserve players who can play multiple roles.

He preaches the gospel of versatility as a former utility infielder who spent 14 years in the majors. Last year, he served as bench coach of a team that had a bench stocked with multifaceted players and turned depth into a championship.

The 2017 Houston Astros beat the Red Sox, Yankees and Dodgers on the way to a World Series title. Later this week Cora will pick up his championship ring when the Sox visit Houston. Then he’ll get back to managing his team. A team he molded to his liking last week with the stunning decision to designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment, essentially releasing a player who had been a fixture in the top of Boston’s lineup this season.

First-place teams don’t often walk away from their No. 3 hitter midseason, but that’s exactly what the Red Sox did when they DFA’d Ramirez to make room on the roster for the returning Dustin Pedroia. It was a shocking move, coming in the midst of rumors that utility infielder Brock Holt or little-used Blake Swihart would be removed from the active roster.

Instead, it was Hanley. One of the team’s most popular players was told at 3:45 a.m. Friday after the team returned from Tampa Bay. Ramirez had batted third in 38 games for the Sox this season. He also batted second in six games. He had been given every chance to prove he can hit, but since the third week of the season the hits weren’t there. He was mired in an 0-for-21 slump and was batting .163 (.500 OPS) in his last 85 plate appearances and .196 in 112 plate appearances.

With numbers like that, Ramirez was headed for the bench. Mitch Moreland has been one of Boston’s best hitters this season and is hitting .317 with 8 home runs in just 38 games. Cora knew he had to start getting Moreland more playing time. If Moreland’s at first, and J.D. Martinez is at DH, there’s not spot in the lineup for Ramirez. Cora believed Ramirez wouldn’t take well to a reserve role.

That’s why he told President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski he wanted to keep Swihart over Ramirez. Swihart might not be as accomplished, but he is the type of multipositional athlete Cora wants on his bench. He wanted to keep the guy who could jump in anywhere on the field at a moment’s notice.

In Florida and Los Angeles, Ramirez was known as an enigmatic personality who could lift the spirit of a clubhouse when things were going well but sulk when they weren’t. While no one on the Red Sox staff would admit to it, it would seem clear that the Sox were at least partially concerned that he might start sulking if he wasn’t playing.

Cora told me Ramirez has had a great attitude this season.

“No, he’s been great,” said Cora. “He’s been really good with our Latin players. With everyone.”

Will the clubhouse miss Hanley’s larger-than-life personality?

Cora doesn’t think so. In fact, he thinks the team’s younger players will now have more space to grow.

“Honestly, I do feel that guys might open up because you don’t have that presence,” said Cora.

It’s an interesting comment. Ramirez hadn’t been a problem behind the scenes, but that was while he played nearly every day. Would the attitude stay positive while he was on the bench? Would it change as he realized he might not get enough plate appearances to activate his 2019 vesting option for $22 million?

It seems Cora didn’t want to find out. So he acted quickly and made a decisive move to mold the roster to his liking.

There’s no doubt now that this is Cora’s team.

And Ramirez no longer fit into it.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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