Yankees' Phil Nevin says gesture by Red Sox manager Alex Cora was 'unprofessional'

ByScott Lauber ESPN logo
Friday, April 13, 2018

BOSTON -- The renewal of bad blood between the Red Sox and Yankees has spilled over to the coaching staffs.

While fans and media focused on Tyler Austin's hard slide into second base Wednesday night, Joe Kelly's retaliatory fastball that hit Austin in the ribs and the benches- and bullpens-emptying brawl that ensued, television cameras also caught Red Sox manager Alex Cora shooing Yankees third-base coach Phil Nevin with a dismissive wave of his hand as Nevin screamed at the Boston dugout.

A day later, Nevin called Cora's gesture "unprofessional." Cora admitted only that it was "out of character," but he didn't back down from the sentiment, namely that he thought Nevin was out of line for pointing and yelling in his direction.

On Thursday, Major League Baseball fined both Cora and Nevin. Kelly received a six-game suspension and Austin a five-game ban.

"I don't know if he was screaming specifically at me. I took exception," Cora said. "I don't want to say I overreacted, but that's not me. I think for 10 games or whatever I've managed, you have seen me very calm over there. There's something about chain of command. If we're going to let everybody be screaming in situations like that, it wasn't a good situation and it can be worse."

Nevin explained that his initial objection to Cora came in the heat of a brawl between the teams. He said he never really got upset until he returned to the third-base coach's box and saw Cora gesturing to him to get back in the box.

"When I was on the field, I did say something to him, absolutely, right to his face -- and a couple of their coaches, I think," Nevin said. "Just let them know how I felt about what happened with Austin and that was it. At the time, there was zero response [from Cora]. In fact, maybe even a little backpedal, if you will.

"Then, when I was a the other side, I saw a gesture made to me. Maybe I saw it wrong. If I did, then I guess those things happen, too. But that's what set me off. I saw something that was directed to me when I was back out at third. To tell somebody to go back and get in their little box when everybody saw that, that's pretty unprofessional."

Yankees manager Aaron Boone, who has a friendly relationship with Cora, didn't want to comment on the situation. But he did say he wouldn't characterize Cora's actions as unprofessional.

"I don't necessarily see it that way from Phil's standpoint," Boone said.

Cora said he didn't plan on discussing the situation with either Nevin or Boone.

"I don't want any of my coaches to be screaming at Aaron Boone or any of their players. I took exception," Cora said. "I made a signal. I know everybody saw it. Out of character for me, but I still don't like the fact that he was pointing at me and screaming at me."

Cora and Nevin played against each other for years in the National League West (Cora for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Nevin for the San Diego Padres), but neither said he ever had a problem with the other.

"No, man," Cora said with a smile. "I was a utility guy. He was a superstar."