CLEVELAND — Alex Cora never made an All-Star team in 14 big-league seasons, didn’t cover an All-Star Game in his three years as an ESPN analyst and was already managing the Red Sox when the Astros coaching staff he was a part of in 2017 was honored a year ago.

In his 24th year in professional baseball, the .243 lifetime hitter finally got his chance to join the game’s brightest stars Tuesday night as a reward for winning the World Series last fall.

“I never envisioned myself in an All-Star Game,” he said.

Cora enjoyed the All-Star festivities with his entire coaching staff and three of his players – Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez. All three players had been All-Stars before, but for Cora, the experience was brand new.

“It was amazing,” Cora said. “As a baseball fan you just sit there and listen to them talk in the dugout and sharing thoughts and just talking the game. That’s what it’s all about.”

Cora’s fingerprints were all over the American League’s 4-3 win, as he avoided hitting one of his own players (Betts) so that each first-time player could bat and even employed a couple of shifts early in the game. In a nod to Puerto Rico, he pitched Berrios in the third inning, at least in part so the Twins pitcher could face his brother-in-law, Javier Baez.

“It was fun,” Cora said. “I know what it means to the family. Obviously I know what it means for the people back home.”

Cora also sent Yankees left-hander C.C. Sabathia, who started his career with the Indians, to the mound for a visit with Yankees closer Araldos Chapman with two outs in the ninth so that Sabathia could receive one more ovation from the Cleveland fans as he walked back to the dugout. Sabathia received one earlier in the night when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

“It was recognized that he’s one of the best pitchers in the big leagues for the last, what, 15 years,” Cora said. “The guy has won more than 250 games, 3,000 strikeouts. Everything started here in Cleveland. We all know he’s going to retire, so we wanted to let everybody know who he is and I think it was a nice tribute.”

Though the trip to Cleveland tacked two extra days onto an unprecedented 14-day trip that took Cora and his coaching staff to three countries and four cities, the manager wasn’t complaining. He felt like he finally had a place among the game’s elite.

“Overall it’s one of the best baseball experiences I’ve ever had in my life,” Cora said.

IT WAS a quiet evening for the three Red Sox All-Stars, who will be back at Fenway Park on Friday for the opener of a three-game, World Series rematch against the Dodgers. Martinez went 0 for 2, Bogaerts bounced into a double play in his lone at bat and Betts played two innings in right field but did not bat.

In his first at-bat in the second inning, Martinez faced Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, a possible starter in Sunday’s series finale, and flied to the warning track in left. Martinez struck out swinging against Reds lefty Luis Castillo in the fourth.

Bogaerts entered as a pinch hitter in the seventh with runners on the corners and nobody out and the AL leading 2-1. His bouncer to short led to a double play but did score Matt Chapman, and Joey Gallo followed with a home run to give the AL a 4-1 led.

Betts entered in the top of the eighth in right field, but didn’t get a chance to hit because the AL didn’t need to bat in the ninth.

BETTS’ LIMITED role in Tuesday’s game likely didn’t help raise the profile of a player who deserves wider recognition according to baseball’s players’ union.

Union head Tony Clark said before the All-Star Game that Major League Baseball has done a poor job of marketing its stars and pointed in particular to Betts, the reigning AL MVP.

“Mookie should be a household name,” Clark told the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. “Mookie should be a one-name guy. You say Ronaldo. You say Messi. You say Mookie. You should know who Mookie is, and outside of the baseball world, I don’t know how many do.”

Betts’ All-Star selection was his fourth straight. He’s also won three straight Gold Gloves and finished in the top 10 in MVP voting for three years in a row.

“In the grand scheme of things with respect to players that should be at the forefront of every conversation and should be in conversations even with non-baseball fans, Mookie is one of them,” Clark said. “No doubt about it. And unless or until we fix that, it’s going to be difficult for others to be a part of that conversation, too.”

Clark said Commissioner Rob Manfred probably would be in position to answer what is required to increase Betts’ recognition.

“I want to be able to turn on the TV and see players on products with sponsors, licensees, up and down the rows of the streets, whether you’re in a big city or a small city, I would like to see them overlap in other sports and other industries and on TV and in commercials promoting movies,” Clark said. “I would love to see all of that, so that our guys are mainstream. Promoting our guys on baseball channels is not going to get us there. Baseball fans know who Mookie is. Non-baseball fans deserve to know who Mookie is.”

BLAKE LOUBIER, cousin of South Portland native and former UMaine pitcher Steve Loubier, signed with the Red Sox on Wednesday, according to multiple reports.

Loubier, a right-handed pitcher, will receive $500,000, according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis, after he was selected by Boston in the 13th round of June’s amateur draft. Loubier played high school ball at Oviedo High, outside Orlando, Florida, and was a Wake Forest recruit.

TYLER THORNBURG’S difficult tenure with the Red Sox ended Wednesday when the team released the right-handed reliever.

Thornburg’s 30-day rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket had run out, and he reportedly exercised his right as a player with at least five years of service time to refuse an outright demotion to the minor leagues.

Thornburg pitched in just 41 games for Boston after being acquired from Milwaukee in December 2016. He posted a 6.54 ERA with the Red Sox, including a 7.71 ERA in 2019.

This story was updated at 2:49 p.m. on July 11 to correct the relationship between Blake Loubier and Steve Loubier.

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