BRADENTON, Fla. ó Bobby Valentine believes 22-year-old Jose Iglesias is ready to play in the majors. But he did not say he wants him to be the Red Sox shortstop on Opening Day.
There's a fine line separating those two ideas and the manager walked it carefully as he sat in the visitor's dugout at McKechnie Field this morning.
"Heís pretty close," Valentine said. "Weíve seen a lot. Now itís a determination of whether or not itís his time. I think heís played pretty well and showed some really good progress. We have to decide whether heís had enough undergraduate credentials in order to take the next step forward."
Iglesias is 3 for 13 in spring training (.231) with one walk and one strikeout. But he clearly has an improved approach at the plate from a year ago and a better ability to drive the ball. He is stronger and has made some mechanical adjustments.
"I think his ability is good enough. Whether itís his time is the question with all the other contributing factors including [that] Mike Aviles is doing great," Valentine said "Thereís been a lot of guys who were somewhere else waiting for their opportunity and that could be the situation."
Aviles has looked better than expected in the field and shown the expected power to all fields. But Iglesias is a far superior defensive player. With Kevin Youkilis at third base, Iglesias would greatly improve the left side of the infield.
GM Ben Cherington has said several times that the ideal thing would be for Iglesias to finish off his development in Triple A.
"He's shown improvement in some areas this spring and also has shown that there are still areas for him to work on. We still believe Jose will be a very good major league shortstop. We don't know yet when that will be," Cherington said via e-mail. "As with any decision I'll talk to Bobby and the staff and we'll determine what is in the best interest of the team. The guys who have gotten the majority of time at shortstop this spring have all looked good."
Said Valentine: "If there is some formula that says he really does need another Ö something. His ability is all Iím saying. I havenít taken into consideration that other stuff, his time in the classroom."
Valentine said he has not made up his mind about anything.
"But weíre going to have a lot of conversations," he said. "I havenít even had conversations with all the coaches. Once we have all those conversations, Iíll formulate. I just know thereís plenty of options. We just have to figure out what those options are.
"I think [Iglesias] can hit and hit on the major league level. I donít know if he can make this major league team and perform right now the way we need him to perform in this setting, in the group that we have. Itís just my opinion. Again, there might be other opinions. And that could change, canít it? Hopefully not."