The Red Sox, and most of those who follow them, have projected Jose Iglesias as the shortstop of the future for some time now. Although Iglesias is wearing a major league uniform for the first time Sunday due to an injury to Marco Scutaro, the future has not arrived early.
"I think we all think he's got a really bright future here," manager Terry Francona said Sunday morning. "I don't think right now is his time to be our starting shortstop. I would assume he will play some, but I don't know when."
Instead, Iglesias, and the organization, will try to make the most of the two weeks (or more) that the youngster stays with the big club. He will pinch run, serve as a late-inning defensive replacement and perhaps get a start or two until Scutaro, who has an oblique injury, is able to return.
While there could be cause for concern that the reserve role could stunt the growth of Iglesias, the 21-year-old defensive standout sees it as just the opposite.
"No, not at all," he said through a translator when asked if he was worried he might not play enough. "It's a thrill and a privilege for me to be here with a team like Boston, especially at a young age. No worries, no concerns about that, just being ready when called upon."
Francona agreed, seeing a stint in the majors as something that could help Iglesias tremendously down the road.
"We'll find ways to try to use him, like we do with everybody, but I think in the meantime, letting him learn the atmosphere and what's expected of him, hopefully, will be really good for his development," Francona said.
Learning the atmosphere is a process that began for Iglesias during the last two spring trainings, when he was able to mingle with the likes of Scutaro and others. Iglesias called his teammates "a family" and said he was already comfortable with everyone in the Red Sox clubhouse. That guidance has helped the Cuban defector, who arrived speaking very little English, to understand the life of a big leaguer and the expectations that come with being a member of the Red Sox, a heralded one at that.
The on-field progress is critical, too, and Iglesias feels as if he has made some strides in his first year at the Triple-A level. That said, there have been some tough times at the plate. He is batting .253 (22-for-87), but has no extra-base hits and just two walks, good for a tiny .531 OPS.
Iglesias' offense is not the primary reason the Red Sox signed him in Sept. 2009. His glove had scouts drooling. But being able to handle the bat at the higher levels is a hill Iglesias will need to climb. Although the numbers may not reflect it, Iglesias feels he is making that climb.
"The biggest adjustment for me has been being prepared every at-bat, recognizing the strike zone," Iglesias said of being at Pawtucket. "Just not giving any at-bats away. I feel like I've made good progress."
Francona said that Iglesias, a pretty aggressive hitter, has begun to see some deeper counts, a sign of maturation at the plate. He added that not getting regular at-bats in the coming weeks should not impact that maturation.
"He's on our roster and we know he's going to catch the ball," Francona said. "Development is important, but I think a couple of weeks being here won't stunt that development."
In fact, it could help.
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