PAWTUCKET – One day after Jose Iglesias went deep for his first big-league home run of the 2013 season, PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina was asked to weigh in on the suddenly red-hot Red Sox infielder.
The blast at Yankee Stadium continues a stretch that has seen Iglesias shift from short-term fill-in to possibly serving as a full-time backup. The official answer won’t come until Boston activates third baseman Will Middlebrooks from the disabled list, yet if Iglesias continues to perform at a high level, it’s hard to imagine that the 23-year-old will be back with Pawtucket.
Iglesias is hitting a robust .434 with a .456 on-base percentage and .585 slugging percentage in 16 MLB games. When he was stationed in Triple A, he batted .202 with a .262 on-base percentage while slugging at a .319 clip. His 33-game stint with the PawSox came on the heels of a strong start to the season with Boston and also included a 3 ½-game benching.
“It was a long-term thing for Iglesias,” DiSarcina noted about a concept that the native of Cuba initially had trouble coming to grips with. “He was going through growing pains, but sometimes we have to slow ourselves down when we start evaluating and being critical of him when he does certain things.
“When he was here, a lot of it was immaturity. He’s not a bad kid or a discipline problem. He wants to play in the big leagues,” the skipper continued. “My hope is that when it’s game time, every professional player is ready. You can have low times during batting practice or mope around on the bus rides, but when it comes time to compete, you have to compete. Sometimes Iggy wasn’t doing that, and that goes back to his frustration and disappointment (about being in the minors in the first place).”
DiSarcina then touched upon Iglesias’ suspension, albeit with a hockey twist.
“Just because you’re down here in Pawtucket doesn’t give you the right to not to run out groundballs or lose focus at shortstop,” he said. “For Iggy, the days he spent in what I call the penalty box was a step back. Now he’s taken two steps forward. All of us have to have a reality check sometime.”
Had Middlebrooks’ injury occurred around the same time as Iglesias’ suspended sentence, DiSarcina would have had a hard time convincing Red Sox manager John Farrell that Iglesias deserved to get summoned.
“If (opportunity to get called up) came two weeks before (Iglesias sitting), I would have said, ‘Over my dead body.’ I’m not going to recommend him. You can take him if you want, but he hasn’t done all the things that he needs to do,” said DiSarcina. “Two weeks later, he’s there. He’s prepared and we’re seeing what he’s capable of doing.”
Perhaps part of Iglesias’ success with the parent club can be attributed to the support staff he interacts him. When he walks into the Red Sox clubhouse, he sees Arnie Beyeler, the team’s first-base coach and the only minor-league manager he knew during his first professional seasons. Iglesias also sees Brian Butterfield, the Red Sox third-base coach who has helped further the player’s education by schooling him in the ways of manning the hot corner.
“Brian asked me if Jose could play the position. I told him that there’s no doubt in my mind that he could, but he’s going to need your help,” said DiSarcina. “The thing that I’ve always loved about Iggy is his ability to retain information. He’s a very intelligent kid. He picked up English in two months, so you know his ability to do things like (learning a new position) is there.”
DiSarcina sent a text message to Iglesias a couple of days into his second tour of duty with the Sox this season. Basically the gist of message reflected just how far Iglesias has come since coming out of the penalty box.
“John Farrell is getting the good Jose Iglesias, and that’s what we’re all about at the player development level. If that means that I have to go through frustrations with him down here, that’s fine,” said DiSarcina. “I’m happy for him, but I’m just as happy for the organization and the team because the team’s winning and he’s playing a part in it. That’s what make it gratifying.”