FORT MYERS, Fla. In his first spring training in 2010 Jose Iglesias was just two months past his 20th birthday, less than a year since joining the Red Sox and setting foot in the U.S. for the first time. He was working to learn English but usually used a translator.
Now, in his third season with the Red Sox, the flashy shortstop is comfortable enough to make jokes in English. And feel like he has place on the team.
Bench coach Tim Bogar, the teams infield coach, has seen tremendous changes in Iglesias.
Hes three years older. I think hes more mature. I think thats going to continue to improve, said bench coach Tim Bogar. I think once hes around this major league atmosphere and these players and he starts to learn players and pitchers and understand how theyre gong to attack certain hitters its going to help him in his positioning. Its going to help him take that defensive flash that you see and make it become simpler because hes going to be playing in the right spots all the time. Hes going to be more confident in that and knowing where he should be."
Ive seen his confidence level though is completely different this year than it was last year, both sides of the ball. I think defensively hes always felt like he belongs here. But offensively this spring up to this point, he believes he belongs here offensively. and thats something I havent seen the last few years.
Is he ready to be a major league shortstop?
At this point he can. Theres a few things he just needs to get to know and hes going to get better and better. And once he knows the league and things that are going on with it, hes going to be a better shortstop. Now how that happens, just depends on the playing time and what goes on there. If he doesnt make this team and he has to go to Triple A, thats one of the emphasis Im sure hes going to want to do. Hes going to have to pay attention to those details.
While he plays a stellar defense, it has been his offense that has lagged behind.
Offensively I think its one of those things where hes still learning himself, Bogar said. Hes a young hitter. Hes still learning how to approach every at-bat, his game plan. Mechanically he looks a lot better this spring and I think hes hit the ball with more force all spring compared to last year and the year before. So, as I said, hes maturing and getting older. You can start seeing things happening. Its only going to go forward.