Ortiz: Cora stands for Puerto Rico, again

The son of Caguas is standing with his ailing island, just as he always has.

Álex Cora, the first Puerto Rican manager to win a World Series, will skip the Boston Red Sox’s trip to visit President Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday.

Just as fellow Puerto Rican superstar Carlos Correa did last year when the Astros visited the White House, Cora will stay away from a President who has been criticized for his comments about Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Cora is one of dozens of Puerto Ricans in the majors who have devoted much of his free time raising funds and donating their time and money to personally take relief supplies to their island continually since Hurricane Maria devastated La Isla del Encanto.

During his negotiations for the Red Sox’s managerial position during the 2017 playoffs, Cora asked the Red Sox to send a plane full of relief supplies to Puerto Rico. That request was a continuation of the work he did as bench coach of the Astros when he joined Carlos Beltrán, Correa and that entire organization to collect and donate multiple plane loads of relief supplies to Puerto Rico.

“Puerto Rico is very important to me,” Cora wrote in a statement delivered in Spanish on Sunday to Puerto Rico’s El Nuevo Dia newspaper. “Throughout the winter I spent a long time at home visiting relatives and friends.

“Regrettably, we’re still battling. Some are still missing fundamental necessities, others are without electricity and many homes and schools are in bad shape a year and a half after the hurricane hit.”

In the spirit of “The Great One,” Roberto Clemente, Cora and his fellow Boricuas have rallied behind their struggling island.

Whether in St. Louis with Yadier Molina, Houston with Correa, Minnesota with Jose Berrios, Los Angeles with Enrique “Kiké” Hernández, Boston with Cora and throughout the majors, Puerto Rican superstars have used their fame to raise money for their battered island.

Some outspoken politicians and many Puerto Ricans have accused Trump and his administration of not doing enough to help the island recover.

Correa and Beltrán, who played his final season in the majors in Houston, skipped the Astros’ trip to the White House last year. Several other superstars from throughout the sports world have declined the traditional invitation to celebrate a title with a visit to the White House during Trump’s presidency.

Cora is the latest major name, but he’s hardly alone.

The Boston Globe reports that 11 Red Sox players also have agreed to skip Thursday’s White House visit, including reigning American League MVP Mookie Betts, Puerto Rican catcher Christian Vázquez, 2018 ALCS MVP Jackie Bradley Jr., veteran ace David Price, young Dominican third baseman Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts.

While celebrating their World Series title late into the night after Game 5 at Dodger Stadium, Cora and Vázquez both thought back to their fellow Puerto Ricans back home.

They hoped their achievements would help bring some joy to an island that has struggled mightily since Hurricane Maria. Cora even brought the World Series trophy back to his hometown of Caguas.

“Although the United States government has helped, there’s still a long road ahead,” Cora said in his statement Sunday. “That is our reality. I’ve continually used my voice so that we Puerto Ricans aren’t forgotten, and my absence is no different.

“Thus, at this moment I don’t feel comfortable celebrating at the White House.”

Regardless of your political leanings, you can appreciate that Cora has been consistent. He’s a proud Puerto Rican devoted to helping his people.

He has shown it with his words and actions. More importantly, he reminds us all that we should not forget our Puerto Rican brothers still suffering.

The second Latino manager to win a World Series and the first from Puerto Rico reminds us yet again that he lives up to Clemente’s legacy.

“Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you’re wasting your time on earth,” Clemente famously said.

Clemente would be proud that Cora continues to make a difference for his people. In skipping the White House visit, Cora at least reminds the world that Puerto Rico still needs help.

Let that be the lesson we take from his decision.

Featured Image: Billie Weiss / Boston Red Sox
Inset Image: Billie Weiss / Boston Red Sox