As Hurricane Ian hits Fort Myers, Red Sox worried about spring training facility and homes

BOSTON — As the Red Sox prepared to face the Orioles at Fenway Park on Wednesday night, some in the organization might have found their minds wandering elsewhere. Hurricane Ian was ravaging Southwest Florida and wreaking havoc in Fort Myers, where the Red Sox are home to their spring training facility, Fenway South.

Ian made landfall on Wednesday as a Category 4 storm and hit the west coast of Florida. The National Hurricane Center warned of “potentially deadly storm surge, catastrophic winds and flooding across the Florida peninsula.” Videos on Twitter showed heavy flooding and even a shark swimming through the city streets. And JetBlue Park, home to the Sox for 10 years, isn’t the only place the team was worried about Wednesday. Pitchers Matt Barnes, Chris Sale and Nick Pivetta are among the handful of players with residences in or near Fort Myers. Broadcaster Joe Castiglione and bullpen catcher Mani Martinez too. Cora noted that Sale and her family, as well as Martinez’s family, were still in the state at the start of the week.

“We just have to take care of the people here,” Cora said on Tuesday. “It’s huge. This thing is big. Hopefully everyone is safe, stays off the streets and stuff, stays in homes and then we know, obviously after it’s been through, what we need to do. .

Reached by text message, Sox baseball manager Chaim Bloom said the organization is keen to make sure its residents in the area are safe.

“Our primary concern is the safety of our people there and their families,” Bloom said. “It’s too early to know for sure, but we’re cautiously optimistic everyone will be fine. All of Southwest Florida has been hit hard by this storm and that includes our facility, but we’ll worry about it once that we will know that everyone is safe.

Unfortunately, Cora is no stranger to hurricane-related destruction. His home island of Puerto Rico was hit hard by Hurricane Maria in 2017 and Hurricane Fiona last week. Fiona caused a power outage for the entire island and a water shortage in different parts of the island. In Cora’s hometown, Caguas, his girlfriend, Angelica, and his 5-year-old twin sons, Xander and Isander, have had to use bottled water to shower in recent days. To get the boys to oblige, Cora said, Angelica did fake post-game interviews with them after baseball practice and then doused them with bottled water, the same way big leaguers do. shower after speaking to the media.

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Cora sees a silver lining in the ordeal of her sons, who were newborns when Maria hit like a Category 5 storm five years ago.

“Despite all the hard things and the difficult situation that we live in, it makes it so that kids like them, over time, don’t take life for granted,” Cora said. “This life that we live, the Red Sox and sometimes the private jets and stuff, it’s not real.”

The Red Sox are doing their part to help those affected in the Caribbean. On Wednesday, the club began collecting donations and supplies at every doorstep of Fenway Park to help relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. The Red Sox have asked fans to bring needed supplies such as battery operated fans, first aid for children, diapers, hygiene products and lanterns while soliciting donations for the Red Sox Foundation online. Cora has pledged to help him as soon as he returns home after the end of the season next week.

“I’m ready to roll up my sleeves. It starts here today at Fenway,” he said. “We’re going to do a lot of things here and the hope is to impact a lot of people there.

“It was eye-opening,” he continued. “Now you see the needs. With everything going on in Florida, you see it. It’s true. This stuff, you can prepare for it, you know what’s coming, but you don’t know what’s going to happen next.

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