Behind The Scenes

Alex Cora, new Baseball Tonight and Beisbol Esta Noche analyst, reflects on playing in the World Baseball Classic

Alex Cora (L) during the 2006 World Baseball Classic. (Photo Courtesy of MLB)
Alex Cora (L) during the 2006 World Baseball Classic. (Photo Courtesy of MLB)

Former Major League Baseball player Alex Cora has joined ESPN in a multiplatform role.

He’ll serve as an MLB analyst for both Baseball Tonight on ESPN and Beisbol Esta Noche on ESPN Deportes, among other responsibilities.

Cora will debut Sunday, March 10, on Baseball Tonight from Bristol, Conn.

The former infielder and member of the 2007 World Champion Boston Red Sox also will work on the World Baseball Classic. Cora represented Puerto Rico during the 2006 and 2009 WBC. ESPN Deportes will have comprehensive coverage of the 2013 WBC.

Front Row asked Cora — who played 14 seasons in the majors — about becoming a bilingual analyst and his WBC memories.

How did your deal with ESPN happen?
They’ve been reaching out the last two or three years when I was playing. Every time they had the Baseball Tonight bus tour swing by, someone would reach out. They know I have a passion for the game and love talking about it. [ESPN analyst] John Kruk, in particular, was great. He would always tell me, “When you’re done playing, let me know.” Baseball Tonight is always something I’d pay attention to. I was always a big fan and it intrigued me.

How will your approach differ when analyzing in English and Spanish?
Once I get rolling with the English side, I won’t have to translate my thoughts. When you’re bilingual that’s one of the hurdles and obstacles you have to beat. If you are thinking in Spanish you may speak it that way. I’ve been involved with the English language since I was a little kid. I went to the University of Miami and played in the States. Spanish comes second nature. Even still, there are challenges. There are words we use in Puerto Rico that aren’t used in Mexico or South America. However, the main language is baseball.

How would you describe the World Baseball Classic atmosphere?
I played in two of the biggest baseball stages in the United States: the World Series and the College World Series. As far as the atmosphere, it’s not even close. The WBC has a different feeling. When you’re playing for your country, you feel that passion. It’s almost personal. I still remember my first exhibition game in 2006 against the New York Mets. They played our National Anthem and I still remember Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez saying [in Spanish], “Whoever doesn’t cry listening to this has no heart or feelings.”

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