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Dazzling Iglesias keeps the highlights coming

Red Sox reliever Chris Carpenter (right) was rubbed the wrong way in an eighth inning in which St. Louis scored eight runs. Red Sox reliever Chris Carpenter (right) was rubbed the wrong way in an eighth inning in which St. Louis scored eight runs. (Patrick semansky/Associated Press)
By Nick Cafardo and Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / March 9, 2012
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JUPITER, Fla. - If the Red Sox send Jose Iglesias back to Pawtucket now, they may have some explaining to do.

Iglesias has emerged as the best shortstop in camp, with another sparkling defensive play and a three-run triple in the eighth inning against the Cardinals Thursday.

Josh Beckett, who pitched three strong innings in the 9-3 loss, was the beneficiary when Iglesias robbed David Freese in the second inning. Iglesias made a diving, backhanded stop on his knees, then got up and made a perfect throw to first base.

“Yeah, he’s pretty sick,’’ said Beckett. “I can see why they gave him all that money.’’

Beckett played with another slick-fielding shortstop, Alex Gonzalez, for seven years between Florida and Boston, and was asked if Iglesias compared.

“I haven’t seen Jose enough,’’ said Beckett. “I know I saw Alex Gonzalez for a long time. He was pretty good, pretty special.

“It’s nice when they make the great play, but I think when a guy hits a ball that hard, if he’d have missed that, I think I would have been able to understand. It was hit pretty hard.’’

Manager Bobby Valentine is getting used to seeing terrific defense from Iglesias, and Thursday, Iglesias tied the game at 3-3 in the eighth with the triple.

“His other at-bats were decent, too,’’ said Valentine. “His rhythm is very good. He’s getting close. He’s also playing under control and starting to dispel some of the things that were said about him in the past.’’

Beckett stretched out to three innings, working mostly on his changeup, and didn’t give up a run.

Against what was essentially the Cardinals regular lineup, Beckett allowed a two-out single by Rafael Furcal in the first inning and a two-out double by Matt Holliday in the second.

Beckett was pitching on three days rest rather than the usual four because Andrew Miller was scratched with elbow soreness.

Beckett, who threw 30 pitches, was happy to face the World Series champions’ “A’’ lineup, though it no longer includes Albert Pujols and was absent Carlos Beltran.

“Yeah, that’s a good lineup,’’ he said. “It’s nice because you kind of got a little bit. Not saying the other guys can’t hit - anybody with a bat up there can hit - but it’s nice kind of just gauging yourself, even this early on.

“If the wind’s not blowing, I think that ball that Matt Holliday hit lands in St Louis.’’

Crawford feels good

Valentine said Carl Crawford’s left wrist has been responding to rest and therapy and that he and the medical staff will meet Friday to map out a plan. “Saw Carl this morning,’’ Valentine said. “He said he felt very good. He’s not experiencing any pain.’’ . . . Miller was not too concerned about his left elbow. He said he felt fine and hopes to start playing catch again as soon as Friday. “Today is better than yesterday, which is better than the day before,’’ he said. “I think it’s just a little bit of inflammation.’’ Miller pitched two innings against the Twins last Sunday, then felt a little stiff when he woke up on Tuesday. “Just being a little cautious,’’ he said. “Better to take care of it now than later.’’ Valentine said Miller will throw a side session soon before getting into another game.

Silva on hold

Carlos Silva, who has been shut down because of inflammation in his right shoulder, has a long history of shoulder issues, and this latest bout has him concerned. “I came here to make the team, not have this happen,’’ he said, pointing to the ice pack on his shoulder. “I want to be pitching.’’ Silva said the discomfort is not as bad as it has been in the past, but it was enough that he felt uncomfortable just playing catch. “I have no idea how long I’ll be out,’’ he said. “I just have to wait.’’ . . . Righty Ross Ohlendorf threw live batting practice in Fort Myers and hopes to get in his first game early next week. The Red Sox brought him along slowly because of previous shoulder issues and a sore back he developed early in camp. “Everything feels fine now,’’ Ohlendorf said. “My shoulder feels normal.’’ He is likely to start the season in Triple A but could become an option during the season. As Valentine said Wednesday, the plan is to identify 10 starters in camp, not just five . . . Asked if he had a “sleeper’’ in camp, Valentine said he didn’t have one per se, but he likes what he has seen from pitcher Doug Mathis, calling him “a very interesting young man.’’ Valentine added, “Chorye Spoone has awesome off-speed stuff. We’ll see how it all shakes out.’’

Cuts are coming

Valentine planned to meet soon with general manager Ben Cherington to discuss when he can start making the first cuts. Valentine wouldn’t mind a smaller group to work with. “I’m looking forward to cutting down a bit,’’ he said. “With other organizations, it used to revolve around meal money and how long they’ve gotten meal money for. ‘Let’s make sure they don’t get this week’s payday.’ It doesn’t seem like we have that scheduled yet.’’ The camp roster is at 62 . . . Felix Doubront was touched up for three runs; a three-run triple off Jesse Carlson was charged to him after he put the three men on base. It was his first hiccup of camp. Doubront is vying for the No. 5 starter role . . . Chris Carpenter, who was the compensation in the Theo Epstein deal, has been prone to control issues, and they appeared Thursday in the eighth inning when he walked the first two batters and then allowed a single to load the bases. He walked in the go-ahead run, triggering a disastrous six-run inning. “He’s got a good arm but it just got away from him,’’ said Valentine.

Nick Cafardo reported from Jupiter, Fla., Peter Abraham from Fort Myers, Fla.

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