Jose Iglesias is gone. Banished back to the shadowy realm of AA Portland, and, barring a storm of injuries, not likely to be seen by most of Red Sox Nation until next spring. Yes, it came out all over the news this week that Jose was “disappointed” to be sent from the big camp. Although both he and the rest of us all knew he wasn’t going to break camp with the team, it was a bit disappointing for everybody else too. For those of us who can’t make it out to Portland to watch him and the Sea Dogs, it’s a bit sad to see him go.
The media seems to love the kid, and so do we. Just watching him field routine grounders is exciting. The act of getting the ball into the glove, transferring the ball from the glove into the hand, then throwing the ball, all seem to be one deft, completely smooth motion with Iglesias. Dustin Pedroia, a Gold Glover himself, recently said Iglesias has some of the “best hands” he’s ever seen. He also possesses a cannon for an arm, gunning the ball with perfect accuracy across the diamond into the awaiting mitt of the first baseman. The media and scouts have all been throwing around comparisons to the great Ozzie Smith, and for those of us lucky enough to have seen the kid in action, it’s easy to see why.
The real question mark coming into spring training, however, was the young Cuban’s bat. But even in that arena, Iglesias pleasantly surprised, cracking a double in his first game. He finished spring training with a fairly impressive line, batting .273 with a HR and 3 RBIs but with a very impressive .879 OPS in 11 at-bats. Not bad, Jose. Not bad at all.
Even his interviews were fun to read. A defector from Cuba, he came over during the World Junior Championships in Canada last year. (Between Iglesias, Aroldis Chapman, and Adeinis Hechavarria I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Castro will soon be keeping all baseball players in chains while not on the field.) Iglesias has quickly adapted to life in the United States and was quoted as saying the Red Sox had become his new family. Always grinning and having fun in the field, he quickly developed friendships with many of the players. Although in his interviews, he always spoke through a translator, he in fact learned English very quickly and would use it to banter with reporters in the locker room. Throughout it all, you just got the feeling that this was a kid who simply enjoyed being in the greatest country in the world, doing what he loved best: playing baseball.
But now he’s gone. And I don’t know about the rest of you, but Spring Training just got a little less interesting. Due to Marco Scutaro’s two-year contract, we won’t see the young Iglesias starting for the big league club until most likely 2012. However, he is on the 40-man roster this season, and if he really tears it up in the minors, we might see him come up in September, who knows? In any case, he is expected to be at least on the bench next season. I, for one, cannot wait to see how he develops and await his arrival in Boston with bated breath.