Jose Iglesias is headed back to Pawtucket. It is the right thing to do to start the season. Make no mistake, Iglesias is the shortstop of the future for the Boston Red Sox, he’s just not the shortstop of the moment. This move may be unpopular with some fans but Mike Aviles deserves the starting job to start the year.
Although Iglesias is an absolute wizard on the field his bat has been cursed. It comes as no shock Iglesias didn’t hit well this spring. Last season, facing minor league pitching, Iglesias hit .235, with 1 HR and 31 RBIs. He only mustered 96 total bases in 357 at bats. While his offense didn’t even approach respectable, his defense was eye-popping. Baseball America named Iglesias the best defensive shortstop of the International League last season.
But the Red Sox can afford to go with Aviles for now. Aviles may not have the defensive skill set of Iglesias but he is a solid veteran presence in Boston’s lineup. Aviles can play short, second and even fill in at third if necessary. He’s a career .288 hitter and had a solid spring batting .333, with seven doubles and four RBIs. In contrast Iglesias only hit .200 this spring and has battled a groin injury. But if Iglesias can develop some hitting consistency in Pawtucket, he could be a huge, beneficial mid-season call up for Boston.
If the Red Sox need a late-inning defensive fill-in, they need to look no further than Nick Punto. Punto is an above-average fielder who will make a great fill-in until Iglesias is ready to make his leap to the majors. Along with his strong defense, Punto had a respectable spring, hitting .241 with two doubles.
The strong infield combo of Aviles and Punto made management’s decision much easier when it came to Iglesias. While by no means an easy decision, the Red Sox are well-equipped at short and can afford to put the future on hold until midseason. By then, Sox fans can only hope Iglesias has found his swing and are treated to his spectacular defense in Boston instead of Pawtucket.
Contributor: Brian Hendrickson