Iglesias' aggressive approach paying off

Iglesias' aggressive approach paying off
June 22, 2013, 6:30 pm
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DETROIT -- For a week or two, it seemed like a fluke. Some infield hits here, a blooper or two dropping in the outfield there, and the hits started to pile up for Jose Iglesias.    

Now, almost a month after his recall from Pawtucket, there seems little random about Iglesias's play for the Red Sox.    

He went into Saturday's game hitting .431. and that batting average leads all major leaguers with at least 75 plate appearances.    

What's more, when he tripled Friday night, giving him 43 hits in his first 100 at-bats this season, he became the first rookie to collect that many hits since Luke Scott (2006) and Tony Oliva (1964).    

Iglesias has built those numbers with 14 infield hits and some others that were well-placed, including a soft liner in the series opener Thursday on which Detroit right fielder Torii Hunter seemed to take the wrong route, resulting in a triple.    

"I just kind of put another mark in the column of good fortune right now,'' said John Farrell. "The hit-and-run (Friday) night -- he makes just enough contact on a slow roller and it turns into an infield hit. He's got some good fortune going for him right now.    

"But at the same time, he looks at a first-pitch fastball from (Evan) Reed and whistles into a right-center field. So you can't say that all of this is a fluke. But he's gotten some base hits.''    

The 14 infield hits may have been the result of some good fortune, but Iglesias deserves credit for how quickly he gets out of the batter's box and gets down the first-base line.   

"When you look at his normal swing as one that's in the middle of the field,'' said Farrell, "so he's balanced. He's got some momentum that way. It's not like he's having to regroup with a step because he's a spin hitter or he collapses on the back side. So he's got some momentum in his favor, to be in full speed in a stride and a half.    

"No he's not a base stealer. But he's got some good fortune and there's some fundamental things that allow him to do that. I'm going to say he's (timed) at 4.25-4.3 (seconds going down to first), which is about major league average from the right side of the plate. We see him as an average runner, but there's some things timing-wise that allow him to be above-average coming out of the box.''    

But 14 infield hits or not, Iglesias has become a better hitter, as reflected in the .578 slugging percentage.    

"He went from a guy that, after he signed, there was a definite approach to get him to spray the ball around the field,'' Farrell said, ''and whether that caused him to feel for the ball a little more, we know that in spring training, he went back to a more aggressive swing, one that was maybe more natural to him. And he's used that same intensity, that same aggressiveness and hit pitches where they've been around the plate, not trying to steer the ball if it's a ball away and trying to work behind the runner.    

"We're seeing a much more consisently aggressive swing. I think that's as much to do with (his success) - he's back to his natural abilities rather than trying to force feed something.''    

The key may well be that Iglesias has learned how to be more selective at the plate, while taking more aggressive swings when he does choose to swing.    

"There's been many at-bats where you'll see a first-pitch fastball that he'll take for a strike,'' said Farrell, "then two breaking balls where he doesn't offer and there he is an advantage count and he's putting a good swing on a fastball. To me, that's the thing that stands out more than the average - is how he's controlling the at-bat and not over-exposing himself or chasing pitches out of the zone.''