HOUSTON — Alex Cora has been both omnipresent and conspicuously absent during the American League Championship Series, his name on the lips of many but his voice never heard in public and his presence scarce whenever the media has had access to the Houston Astros. Cora, the Astros’ bench coach, is the hottest managerial prospect in the game, at a time when there are several high-profile openings, but he has no interest in discussing where things stand.

“I don’t know anything about it,” he said with a smile before Friday night’s Game 6, when asked about multiple reports about his immediate future.

Both NBC Sports Boston and Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports and The Athletic have reported that Cora, 42, is the choice of the Boston Red Sox as their new manager, with an announcement possible at the end of the ALCS. Cora is also known to have interviewed with the Detroit Tigers, who just hired Ron Gardenhire, and New York Mets, whose job remains open.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweeted Saturday morning that the Washington Nationals, whose manager’s job came open Friday when the team dismissed Dusty Baker, will also ask the Astros for permission to speak with Cora.

However, with the Red Sox reportedly closing in on Cora, it appears the Nationals, even if they were seriously interested in Cora – and if the interest was mutual — are too late. The Astros play Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday night, and if the Astros advance to the World Series, the announcement could come during the two-day period before Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.

Cora, mostly a utility infielder during a 14-year playing career, spent parts of four seasons with the Red Sox and finished out his career with the Nationals in 2011. This was his first season as the Astros’ bench coach, serving under Manager A.J. Hinch.

“He’s all about baseball,” Hinch said of Cora earlier this week. “He’s all about the competition and small advantages within the game — one of the brightest baseball intellects that I’ve been around. … He’s had a ton of impact. He challenges people. He challenges me. He’s someone who’s all about winning. And I think to watch our players respond to him, he’s got a lot of respect in that clubhouse because of the work he puts in and the attention to detail that he brings. That’s why he’s the hottest managerial candidate on the planet and deservedly so.”

Carlos Beltran, the Astros’ veteran designated hitter, also had high praise for Cora, particularly his communication skills.

“He’s always in the clubhouse getting to know the players, getting to know which buttons he could push on each player to make them go out there and play the game hard, which is great,” Beltran said. “I think I always feel that sometimes managers, they draw a very defined line between players and manager. And sometimes they get caught up [in] not going to the clubhouse because they don’t want to feel like they’re invading [the players’] space. But as a player I love when managers come to the clubhouse, sit down, talk to us, get to know us, ask about our family, about everything. And that really, for me, means a lot. Alex does that real well.”

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