07/24/2008 12:54 PM ET
Alex Cora: Nearing 1,000 games
Veteran utility player closing in on milestone
I didn't even know until recently that I was nearing my 1,000th career game. I've always been the type of player who takes things day-by-day, but I guess those days add up after a while.
When I first broke into the big leagues, I was very proud of that accomplishment because it's so hard to get to this level. As time went along, I just followed that day-by-day mantra. Baseball at this level is such a competitive grind that you can't afford to look too far ahead.
Initially, my focus was just to survive in the big leagues for another day, another week, another season. Now I'm closing in on 10 years.
When you start reaching milestones, you come to really appreciate all of the hard times and all of the struggles. You still have to get after it each and every day, but I also know it's important to enjoy the moment.
Reaching a longevity milestone shows a little about who you are, I think. It's a testament to your skills and to what you've accomplished, of course. But it also says something about how you go about your business.
When I look back after I retire -- hopefully that will be about 20 years from now as I track down records set by Julio Franco and Jesse Orosco -- I'll look back and reflect on all of the good times and all of the bad times.
Eventually, whatever the final number of games played is, I will consider myself most fortunate because I have a World Series ring. Not every player can say that, and that championship is the thing I'm most proud of.
I'm also proud of the versatility that I bring to a club. That's been an important factor in my career. I broke in with the Dodgers as an everyday player, more or less. They decided to let me go in 2004, and since then, I've been in more of a utility role. My ability to play different positions has helped.
My brother, Joey, played in more than 1,000 games (1,119), but reaching and surpassing his total wouldn't really mean anything. It's not like I'm competitive with him. I don't see Joey as a baseball player. Instead, I see him as my brother. I'm here because of him.
If I do get close to his number, he'll be very, very proud. It won't be a case of him saying, "Alex beat me." It would be something we would both take pride in.
Alex Cora is closing in on his 1,000th regular season games at the Major League level. He's been to the postseason three times, including the Red Sox's World Series-winning club last season. His older brother Joey is currently a coach with the White Sox.