Cora details motivation entering 2023 season: Things got ‘personal'

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If nothing else, the Boston Red Sox can play the "nobody believes in us" card in 2023.

Manager Alex Cora's club enters the season with low expectations, and with good reason: A team that finished last in the American League East in 2022 lost Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez and Nathan Eovaldi (among others) in free agency and didn't add any marquee free agents, instead betting on Japanese import Masataka Yoshida and north-of-30 veterans like Adam Duvall, Justin Turner and Corey Kluber.

Those low expectations -- many project Boston to finish fifth or fourth at best in the AL East this year -- should give Cora and his players plenty of motivation to prove their critics wrong in 2023. But on Tuesday morning, Cora suggested his motivation extended beyond the Red Sox' projected win-loss record.

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"I have a lot of reasons to go out there and guide this team to where we want to go," Cora told reporters in Fort Myers, via MassLive's Chris Cotillo. "We always have the same expectations, just like the fan base and the organization. But there’s a lot of things that happened in the offseason that I took personal. It’s not baseball-related. I think it’s life-related.

"If I needed a chip on my shoulder then I just got another one. I don't want to say I'm more locked in than previous years, but people lit a fire under me in the offseason, personally. I'm ready to go. I'm really locked in on what I want to do.

"Some things you take personal and others you just brush away. I think there are a lot of things that happened in the offseason where I was like, 'OK, this is how it goes? Well, let me go out there and do my thing.'"

While Cora declined to specify what he "took personal," he was featured in a new book published in February by The Athletic's Evan Drellich titled "Winning Changes Everything," which alleges that Cora bragged about the Houston Astros stealing signs from the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 2017 World Series.

Cora declined to comment about Drellich's book when asked earlier this offseason but admitted at the time that it was difficult having the sign-stealing scandal back in the public conversation.

"I think it’s always hurtful because I have to go back to the kids, back to the family, back to my daughter (and say) this is coming out," Cora said, via MassLive. "We got to talk about it. I don’t want to say they’re used to it. But I’ve been open with them about the whole situation and they understand that stuff like this is going to come out and we’ve just gotta keep going forward."

Cora can have all the motivation in the world, but the reality is he'll need several players to meet or exceed expectations if he wants the Red Sox to be competitive in 2023.

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