Alex Cora wasn't sure the phone was going to ring.
In baseball exile since last January for his role in the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal, Cora was home in Puerto Rico, focusing on his family.
He would watch games at night and kept a close watch on his former team, the Red Sox, and monitor the rest of the league. Baseball had been part of his everyday life since he was a child, but for much of the last 10 months, he managed to keep it at arm's length.
Then, a few days after the World Series ended -- and with it, Cora's season-long suspension -- he first got a text, then a phone call from Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom.
"I never saw that day coming,'' Cora said. "Honestly, earlier in the year, throughout the year, to be here right now, I never thought it was going to happen.''
His penalty served, his reputation battered, Cora returned to Fenway Tuesday, reintroduced as the Red Sox manager, just shy of 10 months since he and the Red Sox mutually agreed to part ways.
"It's been a tough year,'' said Cora. "I was spending time at home for all the wrong reasons. For that, I want to apologize. I deserve what happened this year. It was something I'm not proud of. I want to apologize to the organization for putting them in such a tough spot. I was humbled by this whole situation. I learned a lot throughout the year. I want to make sure that everybody knows that this situation is part of who I am. For the rest of my career, as a man, I'll have to deal with it. I don't want people to say that it's a great comeback story. I don't want that. I'm actually going to use this bad experience to make people better, starting at home (with my family).