BOSTON (CBS) – With the MLB regular season just over three weeks away, positional battles are starting to come into focus.
The Red Sox have a few of their own, with the starting shortstop and two spots at the back-end of their rotation up for grabs. CBS Sports’ baseball insider Jon Heyman joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Gresh and Zolak Tuesday to discuss those battles, and who will fill the void for Boston.
There has been some talk that 22-year-old Jose Iglesias could be the Red Sox starting shortstop come opening day, despite his deficiencies at the plate. But Heyman said there is no chance the Sox would go with Iglesias, instead letting him fine-tune his game in the minors.
“I talked to someone two days ago, and he flat told me Iglesias is going to the minors. That’s what you expect when a guy hits .235 at Triple-A, no matter how great a fielding prospect he is,” said Heyman. “Every indication I’ve gotten from people who have connections to Boston is they have no expectation, no plan to make him the opening day starter. They’re hoping that Aviles can prove that he’s a shortstop. I guess that, at this point, he’s your best hope.”
As for the back-end of the rotation, Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves, both vying for the spot after coming out of the bullpen last year, have pitched well this spring and look to be the front-runners.
“I think we’re looking at Bard for four and Aceves at five, unless someone can come out and equal him, but I doubt it,” said Heyman. “I think they would have liked someone to step forward and take that fifth spot from his so they could help strengthen that bullpen. Bobby (Valentine) loves Aceves, but Bobby is a bullpen guys first. He’s always concerned about the bullpen.”
One guy Valentine won’t have to be concerned about is new closer Andrew Bailey, who was a little shaky in his first spring outing on Monday.
“I think if he’s healthy he’s going to be great,” Heyman said of Bailey. “He’s a New Yorker, so I’m going to say he’s a tough New Yorker. He showed that he could be a good closer in Oakland — I know it’s not the same thing — but I like Andrew Bailey. Rookie of the year, great stuff; I think that was a great pickup.”
“If I had to be concerned about one or the other, I would be concerned with (Mark) Melancon, who was in Houston.The set up job is not an easy one either. I think they have an issue of depth in that bullpen, but I’m not concerned about Andrew Bailey at all. As long as he’s healthy, he’ll be fine,” he said.
So what can the Sox do to the bullpen to make it better?
“It would be better with Acveves. But I think Aceves deserves to be in the rotation,” said Heyman. “I know Bobby is concerned about the bullpen, but Bobby is always concerned about the bullpen no matter what he has.”
Listen to Jon Heyman on Gresh & Zo in its entirety, including his thoughts on how Carl Crawford has handled his second year with the Sox so far, and how Red Sox and Philly fans compare to each other.