CHICAGO – Since he signed with the Red Sox in September 2009 as a 19-year-old, Jose Iglesias has been billed as the team’s shortstop of the future – if not by the team, then certainly by observers. But Iglesias has been slow to move into that role.
This season he is blocked by the offseason acquisition of Stephen Drew. And Xander Bogaerts is right behind Iglesias, at Double-A Portland. On Wednesday, Iglesias was in the starting lineup for Triple-A Pawtucket at third base, his second straight day at the position. Tuesday was the first time in his professional career Iglesias had played any position other than shortstop.
The Sox also have plans for the slick-fielding Iglesias to play second base.
Does that mean the Red Sox no longer consider him strictly a shortstop and are trying to shape him into more of a utility player?
“That’s not the case. What we’re doing now has no bearing on that whatsoever,” said Sox assistant general manager Mike Hazen, who is on the road trip with the team.
“Dustin [Pedroia], Jed Lowrie [now with the A’s], they came up [through the organization] as shortstops the whole entire way. And whatever major league position we projected them at, once they get to Triple A, they're only protecting you in one position if they can only play one position. You can’t really afford to have players in Triple A if they can only play one position.
“That’s whey Jackie’s [Bradley] valuable in the outfield, because he can protect you at three spots. That’s why we try to move the outfielders around, too. [Bryce] Brentz has played both corners now instead of just in right. Coming up we just kept Brentz in right because we figured that was his profile position. Once he got to Triple A it was, hey, what if a left fielder goes down? You can’t call a guy up and have that be his first game. It’s the exact same scenario and that’s what we’re doing now.
“Look, Jose has played a lot of shortstop. He’s getting reps under his belt offensively. But we need to maximize his ability help our major league team. And if he’s never played second or third, and we have an injury in one of those spots, and-or, if Ciriaco were to go down, you can’t call up a guy to just play shortstop. Or you’re moving your big league guys around. You don’t want to be in that position, so that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.
“We don’t like to do it too early in their career. We like them to get established offensively, be able to [gain] consistency for them as they’re moving thru levels. And that’s why we do it more at Triple A, even more so than Double A. We want them to at least get to that top level, paly for a little bit, and then start moving around. We’ll probably start doing it with Bogaerts at some point, same reason. We’ll probably wait till he gets to Triple A but those are the types of things that we need to do for these guys, that while they’re in that transition period they have to go through.”
Iglesias – who is hitting just .209, with two extra-base hits, both doubles – was pulled from a game and then benched for several games earlier this month, when his attitude was perceived by manager Gary DiSarcina as less than desirable. Iglesias started the season with the major league team before being optioned to Pawtucket when Drew was activated from the disabled list. Iglesias initially appeared to respond well to the demotion, before showing signs of frustration.
Hazen said that Iglesias has been receptive to his recent change in positions.
“I think he was pretty excited about it, to be honest with you,” Hazen said. “When I talked to ‘DiSar’ he said he’s had tons of questions, he said he seems really [excited]. I think the struggles that we saw a little bit were more a function of Triple A, not a function of moving around the infield. And I think he gets the reason we’re doing it, it can only benefit him. Look, if a shortstop goes down, we know who the shortstop’s going to be, right? But what if somebody else goes down? We need to put him in a position to be able to take one of those spots, too.”