FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Alex Cora's arms were folded as he watched a fielding drill in Boston Red Sox camp the other day, and while he mostly wore a smile, his body language and occasionally pointed tone underscored his insistence for proper execution. The Red Sox manager wants the players to have fun and, at the same time, take their work seriously.
A throw went awry, and Cora's voice carried over the infield, flat and direct. "Do it again."
Then a ball rolled toward third base, and Rafael Devers, Boston's 22-year-old third baseman, rushed in, his feet chopping at the grass as he shortened his stride. He barehanded the ball and whipped it to first base, perfectly. Somebody called out Carita! -- Baby Face, Devers' nickname among his teammates -- and others echoed the word. Devers, grinning, returned to his position, and Cora's expression split into a smile.