Alex Cora: The Mets' Unheralded Hero

Michael GanciCorrespondent IJune 18, 2009

NEW YORK - JUNE 10:  Alex Cora #3 of the New York Mets drives in a run with a hit against the Philadelphia Phillies during their game on June 10, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

When the Mets came into the season, Alex Cora was intended to be a role player. He was expected to give Luis Castillo some days off to rest his ailing knees, and he was also expected to give Jose Reyes the occasional day off to get a bit of rest.

Oh how the tides have turned.

Cora has been thrusted into a much more important role by Jerry Manuel when Jose Reyes went down. That, along with the loss of Delgado, seemed like it would be a crippling blow to the Mets’ chances of being competitive this year. But some guys have stepped up the void and done very well. Perhaps the most impressive story for me is Alex Cora.

When I tell you a guy is hitting .277, you may say that that isn’t all that special, and normally I would agree. But if you also count the fact that Cora’s OBP is .373, all while playing with a splint on his thumb, I think you have gotten a guy who can keep the team on its feet until the speedster gets back.

Cora sees a lot of pitches. In fact, Cora saw more than 30 pitches on Wednesday night. Although it didn’t translate into a win for the Mets, it gives the hitters behind him a chance to see what kind of stuff the pitcher has. Also, he rarely strikes out, which makes for a frustrating combination for pitchers to face. His OPS is the highest that its been since Cora was a Dodger back in 2004. He also is playing excellent defense and he provides a toughness that seemed to be lacking before he got here.

We need to remember that this guy has seen the promise land before. He has won the World Series in Boston and it is about time the players look to him as an inspirational leader. He doesn’t complain or speak to the media too much. He just does his job and he is rarely recognized for doing the little things.

Guys like Cora are essential if you want to win and if the Mets do make a run in 2009, remember the way he is playing right now.

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