Valentine on Iglesias: 'Im surprised at his skills'

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Valentine on Iglesias: 'Im surprised at his skills'

FORT MYERS, Fla. Shortstop Jose Iglesias is leading off the first game of Saturdays doubleheader, against Northeastern. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine has not seen the defensive phenom in game activity, other than Thursdays B game against the Twins. Putting Iglesias in the top slot allows Valentine to possibly see more at-bats from Iglesias.

Just get guys who we havent seen and, like the jurys out on them, play when the game is fresh and maybe turn their third at-bat over sooner so they can get a full days work and somebody else can also get some playing time, Valentine said.

A slick-fielding shortstop, Iglesias offense has lagged behind. The organization has stressed plate discipline to Iglesias. In two minor league seasons, between Double A and Triple A, he has hit a combined .261, with 115 strikeouts and 36 walks. With Triple-A Pawtucket last season, he hit just .235 with one home run and 31 RBI, with 58 strikeouts and 21 walks.

For my money when hes a good baseball player at the major league level his offensive resume has to read more than plate discipline. He has to be able to bunt for base hits in game situations. I dont mean leading off the game and bunting for a base hit, but a man on second and no outs, he better be able to bunt for a base hit and get him over or squeeze, if necessary, if its a big run and Im not going to take his defense out of the game. Or hit and run if theres a situation that I need runners advanced and I dont want to just sacrifice a play. I think that his offense needs to be fine-tuned and then if he learns to start his swing a little sooner, so that hes not jumping at the ball I believe his discipline will be fine. I think, but well see.

He has pretty good skills. Im surprised at his skills."

I wouldnt be embarrassed playing him, making the lineup out because if he was a really skilled defensive player. But again, Ive only seen him catch grounders. I havent seen him play shortstop.

How dominant has Craig Kimbrel been? The numbers are eye popping

How dominant has Craig Kimbrel been? The numbers are eye popping

Remember that infield hit by Jonathan Villar of the Brewers off Craig Kimbrel on May 11 in Milwaukee?

Don't worry, nobody does. That's the last hit off the Red Sox closer. That's right. One hit this month.

How dominant has Kimbrel been? Going into Saturday, right-handed hitters don't have a hit off him in their past 39 at-bats. Opponents are hitting .083 against him. Move the decimal point and 0.83 happens to be his season ERA, too, to go with 13 saves. 

Here's more via @SoxNotes:

Kimbrel, 28, has been one of baseball's best closers for years with the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres. His first year in Boston last season was solid with 31 saves and a 3.40 ERA, but his walks climbed (30 total and 5.1 per 9 innings, the second-highest totals of his career). He also struggled in non-save situations.

There's been no struggling lately. The last run Kimbrel gave up was a home run by Kendrys Morales of the Blue Jays in the ninth inning on April 20 in Toronto that tied the score at 1 in a game won by the Red Sox 4-1 in 10. Kimbrel got the win and his only blown save of the season.

His three-out save Friday night was his first outing without a strikeout since a one-out save April 23. That followed his four-strikeout inning Thursday night.