News broke today that the Pirates promoted Altoona Curve manager Joey Cora to Pittsburgh, replacing Rick Sofield’s vacancy in the third-base coaching box. With an abundance of experience and a background coaching some of the Pirates’ top prospects — Jin-De Jhang, Austin Meadows, Jhondaniel Medina, Kevin Newman and so on — Cora has amassed an immensely successful coaching résumé.
Breaking: Joey Cora will be Pirates' new 3B coach, per source. Cora did masterful job managing AA @AltoonaCurve to playoffs in 2016.
— Cory Giger (@CoryGiger) October 25, 2016
An 11-year big league vet and one-time All-Star, Cora led the Curve to a 76-64 record in 2016. A record qualifying the Curve for its second straight postseason appearance. Altoona eventually found themselves defeated by the Akron Rubberducks in the Western Division Championship Series.
Before joining the Pirates organization, the former middle infielder found himself bouncing from job to job within professional baseball.
His coaching career took its first major step forward in 2003, five years after his retirement, with the help of friend and then-Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. From 2003 to 2011, after nearly a full decade in White Sox black, the two subsequently broke up following Guillen’s firing. Then, Guillen brought him to Miami as the Marlin’s new bench coach a year later, which only lasted until 2012. From there, Cora went on to cover baseball for MLB Network just a year later.
However, barely two months into his Altoona career, Cora sparked controversy. Contention arose when for the 51-year-old said MLB doesn’t give Latin Americans equal opportunities to manage ball clubs.
“I have had six interviews and obviously I haven’t been as lucky as I would hope to be,” Cora told ESPN last May. “It has been a frustrating effort. I thought I had done everything they asked me to do, but I haven’t had the opportunity. Part of the process, part of the system.”
Perhaps becoming Pittsburgh’s new third-base coach will help catapult Cora into a big league manager role. Something former bench coach Jeff Banister pursued in 2015 by taking the helm as the Texas Rangers manager.
Update: There may have been an ulterior motive behind the promotion of Cora. Sung Min Kim reported that Cora was in the running for SK Wyvern’s managerial position, a team affiliated in the KBO. Instead, Cora was bypassed because of his new position in Pittsburgh.
— Sung Min Kim (@sung_minkim) October 27, 2016
Joe Cinello covers Pirates material for Pittsburgh Sports Castle. Connect with him on Facebook (Joey Cinello), Linkedin (Joseph Cinello) and Twitter (jcin13).