Will Middlebrooks’ Injury Opens Door for Jose Iglesias to Show Off His Major League Value

Minnesota Twins  vs. Boston Red SoxBOSTON — It’s your move (again), Jose Iglesias.

The Red Sox recalled Iglesias on Friday amid a flurry of roster moves, which included third baseman Will Middlebrooks going on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain. Suddenly, Iglesias — a player whose future is as unclear as anyone in the Red Sox system — has another chance to prove he belongs at the major league level.

The Red Sox’ shortstop situation earlier this season was one of the most polarizing topics in Boston. Stephen Drew, who signed a $9.5 million contract in the offseason, was always going to be the starter upon returning from a concussion he suffered during spring training, but Iglesias’ hot start to the year made for plenty of heated arguments on the sports talk airwaves.

The Red Sox eventually stuck to the plan, and they optioned Iglesias to Triple-A Pawtucket when Drew returned. It wasn’t a popular decision among those who wanted to “let the kid play,” and according to reports, Iglesias wasn’t too thrilled about the situation, either.

Who could blame him? It’s not every day that you send down a player hitting .450, especially when that player was once considered the shortstop of the future. And with another promising, young shortstop, Xander Bogaerts, working his way through the system at a rapid pace, it left Iglesias without a real sense of direction.

But things often get worse before they get better. Iglesias was benched for three games in Triple-A because of behavioral issues, but the 23-year-old has since shown a willingness to do whatever it takes to get back to The Show.

Iglesias worked out at second base and third base at Triple-A — even appearing in a game at third — in an effort to increase his big league value. The thought was that Iglesias could become a utility option for the Red Sox at some point. Little did they know that an injury to Middlebrooks would mean an earlier-than-expected return to Boston for Iglesias.

The Red Sox don’t have many third-base options, which is a big reason why Middlebrooks’ early-season struggles and visit to the disabled list sting even more. Essentially, it’s either Iglesias or utilityman Pedro Ciriaco, who has a .175 average to go with spotty defense this season. The Red Sox, for now, appear willing to roll with Iglesias, who was immediately penciled into John Farrell’s lineup card at third base on Friday.

Iglesias’ return to Boston doesn’t guarantee anything. There are still questions surrounding the infielder, including the one that’s hung over his head all along — can he hit? Iglesias hit .450 (9-for-20) with the Red Sox earlier this season, but many of those hits were well-placed infield singles, and he’s since gone on to hit .202 in 33 games with the PawSox.

There are also questions about how Iglesias, who never played third base in a major league game before Friday, will handle the hot corner. And even if he handles the situation well, is it wise to move him out of shortstop, where light hitters can still carve out successful baseball careers?

Nevertheless, here Iglesias is, back in Boston for another go-round. It’s largely because of circumstance, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t another huge opportunity for the young infielder. With a good showing, Iglesias could prove he’s definitely worthy of a major league roster spot this season. A poor showing will cast further doubt over his future.

Opportunity is knocking (again). It’s up to Iglesias to answer (again).

Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here

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