BOSTON (CBS) – Bobby Valentine already has his hands full trying to figure out the back-end of the Red Sox rotation and who will corner the outfield until Carl Crawford can return.
But he is making more work for himself, and it appears getting into a bit of a disagreement with the front office, all at once.
The reason: 22-year-old shortstop Jose Iglesias.
While he is a wizard in the field with his glove, bringing a defensive aspect to the Sox infield they haven’t seen since the days of Alex Gonzalez, Iglesias’ bat has been slow to join the party.
He’s batting .235 this spring, going just 4-for-17 with a triple and four RBI. In 618 minor league at-bats, Iglesias has hit .261 with a homer and 51 RBI. He’s also walked just 36 times to 115 strikeouts.
Still, Valentine is impressed with his young shortstop, and making his push to have Iglesias on the field April 5 in Detroit, or shortly after.
“Readiness for the big leagues? Pretty close,” Valentine said of Iglesias on Wednesday. “I think we’ve seen a lot. Now it will just be a determination of whether it’s his time. I think he’s played pretty well. He’s showed really good progress. We have to decide if he has enough undergraduate credentials in order to take the next step forward. I think his ability is good enough.”
“I think he can hit and field at the major league level. But I don’t know that he can make the major league team and perform right now the way we need him to perform in this setting, in the group that we have,” the new Sox manager added.
“I feel great at the plate. When you feel comfortable with your mechanics, discipline comes with that,” Iglesias told RedSox.com this week.
The Red Sox front office would like Iglesias to hone in on his patience at the plate in the minors. The Sox brass wants Boston to go with Mike Aviles as their opening day shortstop, with Iglesias starting the season in Pawtucket.
“There’s two things at play here,” The Globe’s Pete Abraham told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Johnston & Flynn Thursday morning. “Bobby really likes the kid and the front office would really like him to go to Pawtucket for a little more time and finish off his development and become a better hitter. So there could be a little bit of a roster tug-of-war here with that position.”
Gallery: Red Sox Spring Training
So the Red Sox have another positional conundrum, which could blossom into a tiff between GM and Manager.
But whatever happens, Iglesias looks to make his mark on the team sooner rather than later. And whenever that happens, he’ll be happy.
“I came here to win the job, to do my job every single day,” he said. “I prepared myself. The only thing I can control is getting better every day. Come early, put myself in good position and whatever happens at the end of the spring, I can’t control that.”