FORT MYERS, Fla. - While at this juncture it still looks like Mike Aviles as the starting shortstop, keep an eye on Jose Iglesias in the rear view mirror.
Valentine had many good things to say about the 22-year-old Cuban-born shortstop today.
On his at-bats:
"Theyíve been OK. I donít think his technique is what it needs to be but his ABís have been good. If we add a little more technique and rhythm and something to give him the ability to recognize the pitch earlier and time it better, he might be close,Ē Valentine offered.
Asked if he were receptive to coaching, Valentine said, "Iglesias has been outstanding on my watch. I havenít been in the cage with him so Iím not totally sure whatís going on. I know itís proper and I donít know what his aptitude is from there to the game. What Iím seeing is very good."
Is he indeed "special?"
"Well, yes. Hereís the specialness - he has a special tracking device on fly balls unique to very few from what Iíve seen so far. He has a special ability to transfer the ball from glove to hand. He has a specialness moving and range and game awareness, I can tell he can transfer the ball from a longer distance more than anyone Iíve ever seen and he's got that GPS in his mind," explained Valentine.
Valentine was asked whether anyone could have hauled in a pair of popups that Iglesias caught in a "B" game vs. the Twins late last week and he said, ďI dare say no one in this camp based on the skill set. Few, if anyone Ė Ozzie (Smith) and Rey Ordonez could do that. Thereís a few but very few. Theyíre runs and outs. They are not hits and they could be runs if there are people on base. The pop up is not a skill that should be discarded. Especially in todayís world."