BOSTON (CBS) — By almost all accounts, the Boston Red Sox’ plan for Jose Iglesias involves the 22-year-old starting his second full season in professional baseball in Triple-A. With a few more performances like he had Thursday, though, he may be able to make a case to start the year with the big club.

The shortstop went 1-for-4 against the Cardinals, but he made that hit count. He launched a bases-loaded triple in the top of the eighth inning, scoring the Red Sox’ only three runs of the afternoon.

“That ball was scalded,” starting pitcher Josh Beckett said after the 9-3 loss to the Cardinals.

Beckett’s praise extended beyond the kid’s bat, though, as Iglesias made a pair of outstanding defensive plays behind the righty.

“Yeah, he’s pretty sick,’’ said Beckett, according to The Boston Globe. “I can see why they gave him all that money ($6 million signing bonus).”

It’s not surprising that Iglesias turned some heads with his defense. That is, after all, his biggest strength. Still, when an 11-year veteran like Beckett heaps praise as much as he did on Thursday, it becomes noteworthy.

“It’s nice when they make the great play, but I think when a guy hits a ball that hard, if [Iglesias would] have missed that, I think I would have been able to understand,” Beckett said. “It was hit pretty hard.”

Manager Bobby Valentine also spoke highly of Iglesias’ at-bats, telling reporters that “he’s getting close.”

Obviously, one spring performance on March 8 won’t be the ultimate decider of fate for the slick-fielding shortstop. But if he can repeat that a few times, he’ll leave Valentine and general manager Ben Cherington with a difficult decision come April.


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