Iglesias shows another defensive flash of brilliance

707512.jpg

Iglesias shows another defensive flash of brilliance

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It was only one play late in an exhibition game, but Monday afternoon, shortstop Jose Iglesias showed why the Red Sox have such high hopes for him.

With Minnesota's Sean Burroughs on first after walk in the top of the seventh inning, infielder Michael Holliman hit a grounder up the middle.

Iglesias glided over behind the second base bag and never flinched when the ball took a bad hop on the infield dirt. Iglesias simply adjusted his glove a few inches higher, snared the ball in the pocket, then, with his momentum carrying him away from the second base bag, flipped to Pedro Ciriaco for the forceout.

It was a remarkably instinctive play that hinted at Iglesisas' defensive brilliance.

"I'm just reacting to the ball," he said. "It was a bad (hop) and I caught it."

"That was special," said Andrew Bailey, who was pitching at the time. "He can play some defense, that's for sure. The ball took a funny hop on him. He was able to stay with it and get the out. So that was great. Definitely saved the first and third or maybe more than that. And that's a big league
play right there."

Of course, his play in the field isn't in question. But the Red Sox still have to be convinced that he can hit enough to warrant being in the major leagues.

He went 0-for-3 Monday and is hitting .231 in Grapefruit League play this spring.

"I feel very good at the plate," he said. "I've made a couple of adjustments, little things. I feel more disciplined and I'm driving the ball way better. I learned from last year."

Iglesias is unsure what the Red Sox plan to do with him at the start of the season.

"I don't know what my chances are of making the team," he said. "I only care about coming here and getting better every single day. Whatever happens at the end of the spring, I can't control that. I don't know what's going to happen. Whatever happens at the end of the spring, I have to do. They're going to do what's best for my career, for my development."

Asked if he was ready to play at the big league level, Iglesias said: "I'm working hard. I do my best. I don't know -- I haven't played here yet. But I feel very good."

The game marked Iglesias' return to game action after missing about a week with a strained groin.

"The groin feels good," said Iglesias. "I really felt good. My groin feels better and I'm ready to play."

Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, 24, killed in boating accident

miami-marlins-jose-fernandez.jpg

Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, 24, killed in boating accident

MIAMI  — Jose Fernandez, the ace right-hander for the Miami Marlins who escaped Cuba to become one of baseball's brightest stars, was killed in a boating accident early Sunday morning. Fernandez was 24.

Authorities said Fernandez was one of three people killed in a boat crash off Miami Beach.

Chief Petty Officer Nyxolyno Cangemi told The Associated Press that a Coast Guard patrol boat spotted an overturned boat at 3:30 a.m. on a jetty near Government Cut. The bodies were discovered a short time later.

In the statement, the Marlins say they are "devastated by the tragic loss of José Fernández. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time."

"Hands down one of my favorite guys to watch pitch! He brought nothing but intensity and passion," Red Sox pitcher David Price said on Twitter early Sunday.

Because the boat was on a jetty, the Coast Guard notified Miami-Dade police, which turned the investigation over to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Fernandez was on a 32-foot vessel that had a "severe impact" with a jetty, said FWC's Lorenzo Veloz.

"We are stunned and devastated," Major League Baseball said in a statement.

City of Miami Fire-Rescue workers were seen carrying bodies, draped and on stretchers, at the Coast Guard station after sunrise Sunday. The names of the other two individuals are being withheld pending notification of relatives, the Coast Guard said.

Fernandez was a two-time All-Star who went 38-17 in his four seasons with the Marlins, winning the NL's Rookie of the Year award in 2013. The native of Santa Clara, Cuba became a U.S. citizen last year and was enormously popular in Miami.

He tried to defect from Cuba at least three times — landing in jail after one of those unsuccessful tries — before eventually getting to the U.S. and going to high school in Tampa, Florida. The Marlins drafted him in 2011 and Fernandez was in the majors two years later.

The Marlins' game Sunday at home against the Atlanta Braves has been cancelled.

"I'm still in shock," former Marlins player Gaby Sanchez said on Twitter. "The world has lost a remarkable person. You will be missed and my heart goes out to the Fernandez family."

© 2016 Associated Press.

Curran's Sunday 4-pack: So, what HAS Tom Brady been up to?

Curran's Sunday 4-pack: So, what HAS Tom Brady been up to?

Six days – four quarters of football – remain in Tom Brady’s four-game suspension.
 
The fact is the Patriots are 3-0 and have gotten a long – and enjoyable – look at their quarterback depth behind Brady. Brady, meanwhile, has gotten a chance to shave one-quarter off the season-long wear-and-tear he takes.
 
But highlighting silver linings and pointing out there’s not much sand left in the suspension hourglass is no real consolation. Said one team source Thursday night, “It’s never going to go away.”
 
What’s Brady been up to? Mixing family time and working out. He’s routinely spent four hours a day training, I’m told, presumably with his body coach Alex Guerrero at TB12 Sports Performance at Patriot Place. Also, aside from his Sunday session with Wes Welker, Brady’s been throwing to young college players at undisclosed locations, eschewing the opportunity to bring in some of the “name” former players who’ve reached out and offered their services.
 
Spotted in Italy with wife Gisele Bundchen last week, Brady’s also been back home in San Mateo visiting with his family.
 
Speaking to two people close to him, I was told he succeeded in making peace with the time off and avoiding the creep of too much bitterness. I was also told he’s unbelievably motivated to return at a high level and wants his transition back to be seamless in terms of performance and conditioning. That last part is, of course, to be expected. But it will be interesting to see how Brady does perform out of the gates after a month’s forced exile.
 
NINKOVICH RETURNS, TOO

The lesser of the two suspended prodigal sons set to return next week – Rob Ninkovich – is no doubt going to benefit physically from the quarter-season vacation as well. And the defensive ends who’ve performed well in his absence – Jabaal Sheard and especially Chris Long – will do well to have Ninkovich back in the mix. Mention should also be made of Trey Flowers who has shown up in opponent’s backfields on a weekly basis. It depends on what your personal cup of tea might be, but through three games, Long seems to me a much better defensive fit for this team than Chandler Jones. Jones was the more explosive pass-rusher but Long’s ability in the running game, and his play-in, play-out impact in applying pressure on the tackle in front of him makes it seem so far as if he’s an upgrade.
 
NEW DEALS AHEAD?
 
Still no word on which Patriot may be in line for a new deal since the team restructured Devin McCourty and freed up some cap space.

Donta Hightower, Malcolm Butler and Jamie Collins have been seen as the most likely targets for extensions and a redo of Hightower at this point would whittle down his $7M cap number and possibly allow another extension to be executed for either Collins or Butler, as our Phil Perry pointed out.  Jabaal Sheard, meanwhile, is the Patriot who flies under the radar when extension talk starts. He may be every bit as important to the success of the Patriots defense as the other three.
 
REX WRECKS
 
The Bills are 0-2, the natives are beyond restless in Buffalo and the Cardinals are in Western New York on Sunday. The Bills are expected to play without wide receiver Sammy Watkins and are a team staring into the esophagus of 0-3 with a visit to the Patriots coming next week. Have a gander at the Bills Mailbag in the Buffalo News.  Seems like years since Rex was all giddy about the paint job on his new truck. It was less than 19 months ago.