Iglesias rolls with new role
The plan was for Jose Iglesias to spend the season at Triple A Pawtucket, refine his approach at the plate, and go to spring training next year with a chance to become the starting shortstop for the Red Sox.
But need sometimes trumps careful planning during a baseball season. When Marco Scutaro aggravated a strained rib cage muscle on his left side Saturday, the Sox had to find an infielder to replace him.
That’s when Iglesias got the call from Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler.
“I was surprised. It wasn’t something I was expecting,’’ he said. “It came as a shock.’’
Iglesias, 21, is the organization’s top prospect and the Sox believe he has the skills to play shortstop for years. But for now, expectations are being managed for a player who has been compared with Omar Vizquel defensively.
“We talked to him this morning. We all think he’s got a really bright future here. I don’t think right now is his time to be our starting shortstop,’’ manager Terry Francona said.
With Scutaro on the disabled list, Iglesias will serve as a backup infielder. He has only played shortstop in the minors with a few games at third base in the Arizona Fall League. He will work with infield instructor Tim Bogar on playing second.
“Put him in for defense, let him pinch run. We’ll find ways to try and use him like we do with everybody,’’ Francona said. “Letting him learn the atmosphere and what’s expected of him will hopefully be really good for his development.’’
Iglesias played the ninth inning at shortstop in yesterday’s 9-5 victory against the Twins. He threw out Alexi Casilla to end the game.
Iglesias was a few seconds late taking the field at Fenway Park for the first time. Scutaro playfully had hidden his glove behind a television camera.
“I was super happy,’’ Iglesias said of making his debut.
Iglesias was hitting .253 with a .278 on-base percentage in 24 games for Pawtucket without an extra-base hit. But he had improved in recent days, going 11 of 36 before his call-up.
“I thought it went very well the first month. It’s a very good level of competition,’’ Iglesias said. “One of the things I learned was getting prepared every day, on a day-in, day-out basis.
“The biggest adjustment for me is being prepared every at-bat, recognizing pitches and learning the strike zone. Just not giving at-bats away. I feel like I’ve made good progress this season.’’
Said Francona: “Triple A was a little bit of an adjustment for him. Coming here, if we wanted him to play every day, that might be a little bit of a stretch right now.’’
Iglesias speaks English well. But he asked to use an interpreter for a group interview before the game, a role that assistant director of Latin American operations Eddie Romero handled.
Iglesias said that after speaking to Beyeler about his promotion, he called his father, Candelario.
“He was in tears. This was something we’ve been waiting for,’’ said Iglesias, whose father joined him in the United States a few months ago.
Iglesias said several times how thrilled he was to be in the majors and that he was prepared to play as much or as little as required.
“I’m just here to help in any way I can,’’ he said.
After two spring trainings with the big league team, Iglesias has become friendly with several players. Scutaro, Mike Cameron, and Adrian Gonzalez were among those who greeted him with hugs.
“It’s like a family here. I’ve been around. I know most of these guys,’’ Iglesias said. “I feel very comfortable.’’
Barring the unexpected, Iglesias will be in the majors only as long as it takes Scutaro to recover.
“Development is important, Francona said. “A couple weeks being here won’t stunt that development.’’
Iglesias is the youngest player to get in a game for the Sox since righthander Jeff Suppan in 1996, the youngest position player since Rich Gedman in 1980, and the youngest shortstop since Juan Beniquez in 1971.
Scutaro shelved Scutaro first felt pain on his left side taking batting practice in Baltimore last month. He aggravated the injury last week and again Saturday.
“I just want to make sure it doesn’t get any worse,’’ he said, noting that a full tear can take 6-8 weeks to heal. “It’s a tough injury for hitters.’’
Scutaro felt discomfort after Saturday’s rain delay and limited himself to taking one good swing in the two at-bats that followed. He left the game in the eighth inning.
An MRI yesterday showed what the Sox said was a “moderate’’ strain.
“He’ll be roughly seven days without swinging a bat and then we’ll start gearing him up again,’’ Francona said.
It is uncertain if Scutaro will need more than 15 days to recover, although that is likely given the history of such injuries.
“These are hard. You have to be careful with these,’’ Francona said. “You have to take care of them.’’
Day of caring Players from both teams wore pink ribbons on their uniforms to raise awareness for breast cancer on Mother’s Day. Others wore pink wristbands and used pink bats.
Jason Varitek took it a step further and wore a mask and chest protector with pink accents. They will be auctioned off to raise money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Minnesota shortstop Trevor Plouffe wore pink high-top spikes in honor of his mother, Diane, whose breast cancer has been in remission for six years.
Crawford stays hot Carl Crawford’s triple in the third inning extended his hitting streak to eight games. He is 12 of his last 31, improving his batting average from .135 to .211 . . . Tim Wakefield is on the verge of becoming the oldest player in team history. The record is held by Deacon McGuire, who was 44 years, 280 days old when he played on Aug. 24, 1908. Wakefield is 44 years, 280 days old today . . . The Sox are 9-1 against the Twins at Fenway since the start of the 2008 season.