FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox today optioned first baseman Lars Anderson and shortstop Jose Iglesias to Triple-A Pawtucket.
The club also reassigned right-handed pitchers Justin Germano and Doug Mathis and outfielder Josh Kroeger to minor league camp.
That leaves Mike Aviles as the starting shortstop to open the season.
Bobby Valentine said it was a “real emotional meeting” this morning when he and Ben Cherington talked to Iglesias.
The Sox want Iglesias to work more on the consistency of his swing. He hit .200/.286/.280 this spring.
“He’s working on things,” Valentine said. “About two weeks he had a mechanic that looked like it was real functional. I think an 0-for-3 took him out of it. That’s one of the things that he has to develop, confidence in his program.”
It was not a tough decision according to Valentine.
“As we said, eventually things play their way out,” the manager said. “It’s easy to do the right thing.”
Iglesias — who handled the news “professionally” according to Valentine — was the same way with reporters.
“We have some tough decisions going on. But at the end of the day, I can’t control that,” he said. “Get better, that’s what I can control. And that’s what I will.”
Iglesias said “it’s always difficult” to get demoted.
“They know what they’re doing, what’s best for my development and my career,” he said. “We’ll see what’s going to happen next. It was a tough decision for everybody. But they know what’s going on.”
His goal now?
“The biggest thing is to stay on the field,” Iglesias said. “Stay healthy, be disciplined at the plate and put in some good ABs, do the little things. The biggest thing is take care of yourself. … I feel like I’m going to help this team win in one way or another. I’m going to go back to Triple-A, do my best in hitting, fielding, everything and we’ll see.”
The other aspect of the decision, of course, was that Aviles has played well since the start of camp. Beyond his .866 OPS, he has handled the plays in the field he needs to make.
“There were a couple of factors in what we were evaluating. Mike just didn’t do anything wrong, that’s for sure,” Valentine said. “He does everything right.”
Valentine pointed out that Iglesias is “pretty close” to being ready.
“If something crazy happened tomorrow, Mike was traded for Greg Maddux, who’s making his return, I think Jose could be our shortstop. He’d just have some more difficult days developing at the major league level than I think he will at the minor league level. It’s real hard to sharpen your teeth against major league pitching.”
Valentine was asked how much debate their was with Cherington on the issue.
“We’ve had discussions every day on our team, a couple of times on Jose. It was never a debate,” he said. “I never even knew what side he was taking and I don’t know if he ever knew what side — if that’s what it was — that I was taking.”
There was a staff meeting on Monday night and Valentine said it was “pretty universal” that Iglesias wasn’t ready.
“I wouldn’t say 100 percent but it was a group decision,” he said. “Everybody was on the same page.”
“Absolutely,” he said. “I’d like to think it was partly my decision. I’d like to think that. … I don’t stop believing in a player until I kind of see him stop believing in himself. I saw that the other day, I thought. I just thought that he came into the dugout and he had that look of wondering that I don’t like to see. It’s not the time to be searching. You can’t go into a major league season searching. You have to be confident.”
Valentine said he gave Iglesias the same message he once gave to Sox coach Alex Ochoa years ago.
“Just because God delays does not mean God denies,” Valentine said. “[Iglesias] will not be denied. That’s what I told him and that’s what Ben believes. Ben told him, ‘It’s not if, it’s when.’ ”