Iglesias savors first homer with Boston
Cuban shortstop goes deep late in Red Sox's victory
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- His big league career is in its infancy, so Jose Iglesias doesn't have many memorable moments in his career. He added perhaps his first one on Monday afternoon in the Red Sox's 7-6 victory over the Cardinals.
The 20-year-old Cuban shortstop came to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning with two runners on and two out. The Red Sox had given up a one-run lead the previous inning and trailed, 3-2. Iglesias took the first pitch he saw and drilled it to left field. Hit on a line, the ball hit off one of the signs at City of Palms Park over the outfield fence. It took a second, but umpires eventually called it a home run to give Boston a 5-3 lead.
"I made good contact and hit a line drive," Iglesias said, with infielder Gil Velazquez acting as translator. "I thought it was going to hit the wall and came hard out of the box. When I got to second, I saw the umpire signaling it was a home run. I was happy."
"That's exactly what those young guys are here for," manager Terry Francona said. "Some of these guys are not here to make the club. They know that. They're going to get ready for a long season wherever they're playing, but this is their first impression in front of this staff. Any time they get into a situation when they do well, it gives us something to smile about."
It was just a Spring Training game, and Iglesias put the moment in its proper context. He nevertheless enjoyed his first home run fully with the Red Sox as he continues to acclimate himself to being apart of the organization.
"It's a good feeling for me," said Iglesias, who has gone 2-for-7 so far this spring. "They were important runs, late in the game. I did my part to help the team win. I know it's a Spring Training game, but I'm really proud I was apart of us winning the ballgame and very happy it came out the way it came out."
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Known more for his defensive acumen, Iglesias is not exactly a slouch at the plate, either. He more than held his own during his unofficial debut in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .275 with a pair of homers and 12 RBIs. One of those long balls is now a bit infamous. Iglesias flipped his bat in celebration after it, a common practice in Cuba. He got drilled in his next at-bat, learning an early lesson about etiquette. Needless to say, there was no bat flip here on Monday, even if Iglesias is feeling good about his offensive game overall.
"I feel like I've gotten better," Iglesais said. "I've worked hard. Hitting with people with experience definitely has helped me out a lot. Learning from all the guys around here, I've definitely improved."
He's taken in a lot since getting to Fort Myers, meeting new teammates, learning nuances of the game, improving his English exponentially, getting ready for his first season of pro ball. But he didn't hesitate when asked what the most fun he's had since he's arrived in Florida.
"My first home run," Iglesias said with a big smile.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.