Jose Iglesias was supposed to be the Boston Red Sox starting shortstop by now.
The 23-year-old defensive wizard had been groomed to take the job since signing out of Cuba in 2009, and though he has never been confused for a good hitter, what he was able to do with the glove made Boston put the shortstop on the fast track, even bringing him up for short stints at the big league level to show off his defensive magic.
He did that over 25 games in 2012, earning seven defensive runs saved over barely any playing time. The Red Sox would have been happy with that kind of defense in their lineup going forward in 2013, and all Iglesias had to do to ensure his place on it was to stay above water at the plate.
That, unfortunately, didn’t happen.
To put it in a comparison, Iglesias’ .118/.200/.191 triple slash over 77 PA would have put about 32 pitchers ahead of him as far as offensive output goes. The Red Sox couldn’t put that in their lineup, not even considering all the runs Iglesias would save them.
That’s why they went out and signed Stephen Drew, who will be the team’s starting shortstop in 2013, pushing Iglesias back to AAA to start the season.
Iglesias, however, will more than likely get another extended shot at being the go-to guy at some point in the near future.
That is, if you believe that Drew’s notorious injury history will repeat itself. The talented, but injury-prone Drew has missed 148 games over the last two seasons due mainly to a problem with his ankle, and has played just one full season in the last four years.
So, I think it’d be wishful thinking to imagine that Drew will be able to handle the field all year now, and any extended stay on the DL could mean another shot for Iglesias, who has to improve his offense in order to make his defenseive contributions worthwhile.
According to team manager John Farrell, that could already be happening. The skipper thinks that Iglesias has been making position adjustments to his offensive approach, saying “He’s a little more narrow in his base; he’s a little bit more upright,” and that “it’s allowed him to see the ball better…he feels like he’s able to hit the ball with a little bit more authority to wherever it’s pitched in the zone.”
If Iglesias can put that development into practice in AAA, he may not have to wait very long to get his shot at the big leagues again in 2013, not when the guy in front of him is Drew, a one-year stopgap solution for the Red Sox.
Stay above water then, and Iglesias might just get his place on the team back for the rest of 2013.