Iglesias shows another defensive flash of brilliance

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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."

Brady allows himself to enjoy win: '[Bleep], you've got to be happy now'

Brady allows himself to enjoy win: '[Bleep], you've got to be happy now'

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady can be his own worst critic. That's why last week, after beating the Texans in the Divisional Round to move on to the AFC title game, he wasn't thrilled. He didn't play up to his standards. The offense struggled at points. He wore his frustration like a five o'clock shadow.

Winning is not everything for Brady, most weeks. He has an idea of how he should perform, how the Patriots offense should perform, and when those ideals aren't met, he's generally displeased. 

PATRIOTS 36, STEELERS 17

On Sunday, after beating up on the Steelers, 36-17, that wasn't the case. It was a sound performance, but it wasn't perfect. It was explosive at times, but it shined a light on areas where the Patriots will need to continue to improve. 

Despite its imperfections, Sunday was no time to brood about plays missed or lessons learned the hard way. Screw it, Brady seemed to say. They were going to the Super Bowl. It was OK to smile.  

"It was a good day," Brady said. "I mean, we're going to the Super Bowl, man. [Expletive], you've got to be happy now."

The Super Bowl berth is the ninth in franchise history -- more than any other club -- and the seventh with Brady and coach Bill Belichick. By throwing for 384 yards and three touchdowns on 32-of-42 passing, Brady tied Joe Montana for the most postseason games (nine) with three touchdown passes. 

Brady will also claim the record for Super Bowls played when he and the Patriots head to Houston. And if they win, he'll tie Charles Haley for most Super Bowl wins for a player (five).

Those are lofty numbers made even more significant, perhaps, due to the fact that Brady wasn't allowed to start this season as his team's quarterback. He was asked during Sunday's postgame press conference if it was personally satisfying to get back to the Super Bowl despite having to serve a four-game suspension due to Deflategate.

"Well, that's because of the hard work of a lot of people from my coaches to my teammates to our families that support us," he said. "It takes a lot of people, a lot of hard work and a lot of effort over the course of many months. This didn't start at 6:40 tonight.

"This thing started in April. It really started before that in free-agency when we were picking up guys like [Chris] Hogan and drafting guys like Malcolm Mitchell and guy who were in rehab like [LeGarrette Blount] and [Dion Lewis] and [James Develin] and Nate [Solder]. It's a lot of hard work. There are only two teams left standing, and I'm happy we're one of them."

They're going to the Super Bowl. He has to be happy now.