BALTIMORE -- Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora pushed back against recent media discussion of what could be perceived as a racial divide in the Boston clubhouse ahead of the team's trip to the White House on Thursday.
Cora and several Red Sox players will not attend the ceremony with President Donald Trump to honor the World Series champions. The manager, speaking after a 2-1 extra-inning victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday, said those absences should not be interpreted as a divided clubhouse.
"There's been a lot of talk about what's going on tomorrow and the clubhouse and we're divided with race and politics," Cora said. "Those kids went out there and played their hearts out. We know who we are in the clubhouse. I know a lot of people doubt that, but we did what we did last year and canceled the noise. We showed up every day, and we played."
In January, Cora was outspoken about his native Puerto Rico's need for relief after Hurricane Maria killed an estimated 2,975 people there. At the time, Cora indicated that he would consider skipping the visit to the nation's capital in response to Trump's handling of the hurricane, and Cora officially announced Sunday that he would not attend.
"For everybody that's talking about us and the situation and crushing us throughout the week -- they played extra innings, didn't give in, and they're celebrating [reliever] Heath [Hembree] because of his first save and celebrating [outfielder] Jackie [Bradley Jr., who made a game-saving catch], and we go," Cora said Wednesday. "There's a group going home. There's a group going to the White House. Friday, we get back to playing baseball."
Among the Red Sox players opting out of Thursday's trip are Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Rafael Devers, Sandy Leon, Eduardo Nunez, David Price, Christian Vazquez and Hector Velazquez. Roughly 20 other players will attend the ceremony at the White House.
"Politically, it didn't matter who was in the White House," Hembree said. "If I have an opportunity to go to the White House and meet the president, I'm going to go. Nobody tried to persuade me. They have their reasons why not to go.''
Pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, a Venezuelan native, said, "For me, it's not a big deal. It's your decision. Make a choice. I'll respect it. I don't think that's a big deal. If you want to go or you don't want to go, that's your decision.''
According to Boston.com, Rodriguez hasn't made his intention for the White House trip known.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.