Iglesias finds success at the plate

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Iglesias finds success at the plate

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It would have been nicer had not the bottom of the ninth transpired as it did, with the Tampa Bay Rays rallying for six runs to overtake the Red Sox, 7-4.
But Jose Iglesias couldn't deny the obvious: this was a big night for him.
After starting the road trip 0-and-11, which included the now infamous at-bat in which his manager pinch-hit for him four pitches in, Iglesias enjoyed his best day as a major leaguer Thursday, collecting three hits, the last of which was his first homer in the big leagues.
"Definitely,'' agreed Iglesias, who carried an over 0-for-13 skid into the game. "No doubt.''
"Iggy was fantastic,'' said Bobby Valentine. "He had real good batting practice today. He was very aggressive and he took it right into the game. He swung at the first pitch twice and got a couple of singles and then swung hard and hit one out of the park. It seems like every game, his confidence has been building. He's been getting walks and having better at-bats.''
Iglesias had been just 2-for-35 this season before Thursday night, but suggested his approach at the plate hadn't undergone any adjustments.
"'I'm just trying to put the ball in play,'' he said. "Nothing changed. I've been doing the same thing the last few days. Fortunately,tonight, some balls found some holes.''
The homer, which he drove hard to left-center, was a special thrill.
Asked how he felt rounding the bases for the first time in the big leagues, he said: "Greatest feeling in the world.''
The clubhouse staff arranged for the retrieval of the ball as a souvenir, but not before his teammates gave him the customary cold shoulder upon his return to the dugout. Eventually, they relented and mobbed him with congratulations.
But almost as quickly as it happened, Iglesias turned his attenton to the final two weeks of the season, while maintaining the proper attitude.
"The most important thing,'' he said, "is to stay positive and not focus on the results.''
Even if, for one night, that was particularly hard to do.

Mitch Moreland fancies himself an ideal fit with Red Sox

Mitch Moreland fancies himself an ideal fit with Red Sox

Mitch Moreland put up mediocre numbers and won a Gold Glove in a walk year. For his efforts, he received a one-year, $5.5 million contract on the open market. 

That’s not a lot. Maybe his .233 average stood out to teams more than his 22 homers, but either way it’s somewhat surprising that a one-year deal on low money is the best he could do given the fact that his career average was .258 prior to last year and he’d hit .275 or higher in two of his previous four seasons. 

The contract might not be a major score for Moreland, but he said choosing Boston was. 

“I had a couple options, but really just the whole fact that it’s place that I really wanted to play,” he said of Boston. “Getting an opportunity to come here and be a part of a winning environment, being part of a winning environment and having a chance to go out and play for a championship is huge to me, personally, and this is a great option. 

“What they were able to do last year, you know you were in for a fight when you were playing these guys. It was a gritty group of guys that had a ton of talent. I like to think of myself as that type player, as a gritty type player and hopefully I felt like I could fit in here and move forward and try to help out and make that goal happen of winning a championship. 

“That’s the main goal as far as playing this game for me. I feel like we’ve got a great opportunity here, and that was before the [Chris] Sale news broke, too, you know? So seeing that also, it just shows you that we’re in it. We’re in it and trying to go all out to make that happen. I’m happy to be a part of it.” 

It doesn’t hurt that his batting average is higher at Fenway Park than it is in any other stadium in which he’s had at least 30 at-bats. Moreland has hit .341/.378/.683 with four homers and eight RBI in 41 career at-bats at Fenway. Asked to explain his success in Boston, he noted that “comfortable” was the only word that came to mind. 

So what is the Red Sox’ plan for the former Rangers first baseman? To play him at first against righties and let Hanley Ramirez DH, John Farrell said. 

Farrell did also point to Moreland’s recent work against lefties. Last season was one of two in his career (the other being 2013) in which Moreland had a better average against lefties than against righties. Moreland hit .277/.320/.479 against southpaws last season, with .221/.293/.407 marks against righties.

“Against right-handed starters, Mitch will be the first baseman,” Farrell said. “That gives us the flexibility to DH Hanley in that spot. One thing I also mentioned to Mitch is we’re certainly open to his at-bats growing in number against left-handers, last year was his best year against left-handers in his big league career.

"With Mitch, getting everyday at-bats against right-handed starters at first base and Hanley moving to the DH slot, that alignment, we also have the ability against quality left-handers, where Hanley would go back to first base and then we’ve got the ability to rotate some guys through the DH slot. 

Added Farrell: “His strengths as a player are many, but we feel this is a very good fit in a number of ways, and positionally first and foremost.” 

Red Sox make Mitch Moreland signing official

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Red Sox make Mitch Moreland signing official

The Red Sox officially announced the signing of first baseman Mitch Moreland Thursday. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, the team designated left-handed pitcher Williams Jerez for assignment. 

Moreland has played his entire career with the Rangers, winning a Gold Glove at first base last season. He hit .233/.298/.422 with 22 homers and 60 RBI for the Rangers last season before becoming a free agent. He has a career batting average of .254, with a career-high 23 homers in both the 2013 and 2015 seasons. 

A second-round pick of the Red Sox in the 2011 draft, Jerez started his professional career as an outfielder before being moved to pitcher.