Alex Cora explains how Red Sox are “totally different” in Craig Breslow era

SEATTLE – Craig Breslow is no stranger to popping bottles after a big Red Sox victory, but Thursday night was different.

The former reliever is now president of baseball operations for the team whose uniform he wore more than any other during his 12-year pitching career. So after the Sox kicked off the season with a 6-4 win over the Mariners, they doused their new boss in beer in the clubhouse.

It was also Alex Cora’s first Opening Day win – the Sox were 0-5 in his previous seasons – and potentially his last, as his contract is up after this season. But despite joking pregame about wanting to finally win a season opener, Cora said that Thursday night belonged to Tyler O’Neill, who made MLB history by homering in his fifth consecutive Opening Day game, starting pitcher Brayan Bello, and Breslow.

“It’s good man, that’s what it’s all about,” Cora said.

Breslow’s first winter was tumultuous from his first day on the job, when team chairman Tom Werner promised a “full throttle” offseason, only to walk back the soundbite in January. The Sox didn’t sign any of the top free-agent starting pitchers, several of whom were still on the board late in spring training.

“(Breslow) got here, and it’s been an interesting offseason from the get-go,” Cora acknowledged.

Nevertheless, he continues to maintain that he’s pleased with the state of things.

“His vision and his structure, and the way we’re doing things, I think it’s the right thing,” Cora said. “We’re doing things different from Dave (Dombrowski) and from Chaim (Bloom).”

The biggest change has undoubtedly been the overhauling of pitching development, headlined by Andrew Bailey returning to the Red Sox as pitching coach. The internal restructuring could have a far greater impact than a blockbuster pitching addition, and finally turn the Red Sox into an organization capable of consistent pitching development, the area in which they’ve struggled most for decades.

“We talk about versatility, athleticism, and that’s where we’re at,” Cora explained. “The pitching structure, the pitching philosophy, is totally different, and we’ve done an outstanding job collecting arms, making adjustments with our pitching staff.”

Results will come in time, but the Breslow era is off to a strong start.

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