PAWTUCKET – The rave reviews keep on pouring in for Jose Iglesias. The latest person to throw bouquets of adoration at the promising shortstop’s feet is Frank Menechino, the former big league infielder and current coach for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Menechino first laid eyes upon Iglesias last year while serving as the hitting coach for Double-A Trenton. Iglesias was busy cutting his teeth in Portland, but Menechino could already tell the Cuban defector was a special talent.
Those suspicions were reaffirmed last weekend in Moosic, Pa. when Iglesias collected five hits in three games against Menechino’s Yankees before getting called up to Boston.
“I really didn’t see any changes when I saw him last week. He’s a solid defender who makes rangy plays in addition to making all the routine ones,” said Menechino, who played in 450 MLB games in parts of seven seasons with Oakland (1999-2004) and Toronto (2004-2005), batting .240 with 36 home runs and 149 RBI. “The kid is going to be good. Once he learns how to swing it a little bit and put the ball in play with authority, I think he’s going to be great.”
Menechino agrees with what the masses are saying about Iglesias’ glove, which is that it’s major league caliber right now. The fact Iglesias drew just two walks in 24 games with the PawSox points to where there’s room for growth.
“He’s got good hands and good range. Plus he’s got quick feet. He’s a smart player who positions himself right. He’s way advanced for his age and is the type of guy who pays attention to detail when it comes to defense,” Menechino went on. “I’m not with him every day, but there are some things you can do with his [swing] mechanics to slow him down and have better pitch recognition. Once he learns how to get on base more, he’ll be a much better player.”
Menechino was then asked about Iglesias not staying close to Toronto’s Rajai Davis in the 10th inning Tuesday night. On second base, Davis stole third and eventually scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly.
“He’s got to learn who the base stealers are now,” said Menechino. “It’s a whole process. Every day you learn about something new. You could spend half a season (in Triple A) and learn (who the stolen base threats are) and suddenly you’re gone and you have to re-learn.”
Ryan Kalish had his left shoulder examined in Boston Friday, and the results were very encouraging – so much so that the outfielder is likely to avoid surgery. Now it’s off to the next phase of his rehab, which entails the gradual mixing in of baseball-related activities.
“It was a very encouraging appointment so we can start to get more aggressive with him. The progress that he’s made in a short amount of time gives everyone hope that this is going to be successful,” said Red Sox farm director Mike Hazen via phone. “He’s been doing one-handed drills with his (right) arm, so he’ll probably start getting on a hitting and throwing progression.”
Kalish returned to McCoy Stadium in time to get in a workout and receive treatment. Even with Friday’s news the Red Sox are still refraining from placing a strict timetable regarding Kalish’s return to the field.
“We won’t know anything more until he starts throwing and swinging,” said Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler.
Felix Doubront is the latest PawSox player to go down with an ailment. This time the lefthanded pitcher is dealing with what he’s dubbing a “left groin” injury. Doubront, who experienced the setback during a side session in the bullpen the other day, was sporting a wrap on left shin while sitting at his locker.
Doubront, who was shut down in spring training with elbow tightness, was slated to pitch Saturday. Instead Kris Johnson and his 10.61 ERA will get the nod against Scranton/WB. Beyeler is hopeful that Doubront will be fine in a week to 10 days, meaning the 23-year-old will miss at least two starts. Viewing it a short-term setback is why the PawSox are holding off on placing Doubront on the disabled list.
“It’s nothing serious,” said Beyeler.
For a club that’s been hit really hard by the injury bug lately, it’s fitting that a player whose last name begins with “D.L.” joins the PawSox. Friday saw Pawtucket add Brent Dlugach, who had been on the disabled list since early March after dislocating his left shoulder during a spring training contest. The ex-Detroit Tiger farmhand was immediately thrust into duty, starting at shortstop and batting eighth for the PawSox.
Dlugach takes the place of fellow infielder Nate Spears, who landed on the seven-day disabled list with what Beyeler coined “a left finger laceration.” The injury occurred when Spears was hit by a pitch while attempting to get down a bunt in the 10th inning of Thursday’s extra inning affair.
“They had to cut his batting glove off. It was bleeding pretty nasty,” said Beyeler about Spears. “It’s not his throwing hand, which is good.”
EXTRA BASES: Pawtucket released catcher Paul Hoover following Thursday’s 15-inning loss to Gwinnett. The 34-year-old had been on the D.L. since the start of the season. … The power might not be there for first baseman Lars Anderson (zero homers in 33 games), but he entered Friday tied for first in the International League with 26 walks. ... PawSox reliever Jason Rice celebrated his 25th birthday Friday. … Warwick native Dan Wheeler is expected to make another relief appearance for the PawSox Saturday. … The first free youth clinic of the season will take place Saturday at McCoy from 2-3:15 p.m. Also, the PawSox will be handing out card sets depicting the 2010 club to the first 5,000 fans prior to tonight’s 6 o’clock start.