05/08/11 7:15 PM ET
Top prospect Iglesias gets first taste of Majors
Highly touted shortstop debuts in field, assists on final out
By Evan Drellich / MLB.com
The 21-year-old shortstop prospect with an outstanding glove was officially added to Boston's 25-man roster on Sunday, marking his first trip to the big leagues. Shortstop Marco Scutaro headed to the 15-day disabled list because of a bothersome left oblique.
Iglesias took the field for the first time in the ninth inning of a 9-5 Sox win over the Twins on Sunday at Fenway Park as a defensive replacement at short, and he assisted on the last out, a grounder by Alexi Casilla.
"I was happy, I was super happy and it was funny because Scutaro hid my glove [behind a cameraman] right before I went out," Iglesias said of his debut. "So I couldn't find it and finally found it and was able to get out there a little late."
"I thought the timing was good," Francona said. "Let him get out there, let him get some nerves out of the way, let him be part of what we're doing. It worked out well."
Playing in venerable Fenway only added to the experience for Iglesias, who is ranked No. 1 on the Red Sox's Top 10 Prospects list and 39th on the Top 50 Prospects list.
"It's a tremendous stadium," Iglesias said. "Everybody knows it's very well known, it's one of the most famous parks there is and for me it's a huge thrill and an honor to be playing here especially at such a young age."
Iglesias was in the Fenway Park clubhouse early before Sunday's game against the Twins, wearing No. 68, with his locker situated between Adrian Gonzalez's and Jed Lowrie's. When he received the news Saturday night in Scranton, Pa., where the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox were playing, it came as a surprise. He called his father, whom Iglesias said was in tears.
"[I'm] very glad, very appreciative of being given the opportunity to help out this team here in Boston," Iglesias told a group of reporters through Eddie Romero, the team's assistant director of Latin American operations, who acted as a translator. "It was a surprise, it wasn't something that I was expecting. I just got a call after the game [from Triple-A Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler, who] gave me the news. It came as a shock."
Iglesias had a little time Sunday to let it soak in. He wasn't in the starting lineup, and he's with the team only because the Sox are in a pinch and need a backup infielder to Lowrie and Dustin Pedroia -- not because his time in the Majors has fully arrived.
"We talked to him a little bit this morning," Francona said. "I think we all think he's got a really bright future here. I don't think right now is his time to be our starting shortstop. I would assume he would play sometimes, but I don't know when, but maybe put him in for defense, let him pinch-run."
Iglesias impressed in Spring Training this season, and since Sept. 8, 2009, the day he signed a four-year, $8.25 million deal with the Red Sox, he's been touted as the shortstop of the future. He'll have to improve at the plate, though, before he's fully arrived.
At Pawtucket, Iglesias was hitting .253 with a .278 on-base percentage and not one extra-base hit in 87 at-bats. This is his first season at Triple-A.
"I think Triple-A was actually a little bit of an adjustment for him," Francona said. "Coming here, if we wanted him to play every day, that might be a little bit of a stretch right now, but that's not the case."
"The biggest adjustment for me is being prepared every at-bat, recognizing pitches, learning the strike zone," Iglesias said. "Just me not giving any at-bats away, and I feel like I've made good progress so far this season."
Iglesias said before the game he hadn't much of a chance to talk to his teammates, but expected he would by the 1:35 p.m. ET scheduled first pitch. It's a group Iglesias said he's comfortable with after spending time with them in Major League camp this spring.
Boston might have preferred to call up 23-year-old infielder Yamaico Navarro instead of Iglesias, but Navarro hasn't played since May 3 and went on the seven-day disabled list Saturday with a strained right oblique muscle.
Navarro and Iglesias are the only two infielders capable of playing up the middle who are on the Red Sox's 40-man roster and not on the 25-man. Navarro is hitting .329 with four home runs at Pawtucket.
Francona said he was confident enough in Iglesias' glove to play him at second or third if needed. And there was no concern, Francona said, of Iglesias' growth being stunted by a two-week stint in the Majors, even if he's not playing every inning.
"Development is important," Francona said. "I think a couple weeks being here though won't stunt that development."