Alex Cora plans to play next season at age 36

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Alex Cora has hit just .219 with zero homers and a .540 OPS in 171 plate appearances for the Nationals, but the 36-year-old utility man said yesterday that he has no plans to retire.

“I’ll be playing” next year,” Cora told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. “I’m only 36. Whenever people talk about the future, you better hold it, because I’m going to be playing until I don’t feel I can play well. I feel like I can contribute and help teams out. In my mind, there’s no doubt about that.”

Teams may feel a bit differently, because Cora also hit just .210 with zero homers and a .544 OPS last season and hasn’t cracked a .650 OPS since 2009. He’ll likely have to settle for a minor-league contract and fight for a bench job during spring training.

Dodgers plan to tab Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of World Series

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.

Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.

Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.

Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.

The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.